A judge entered an innocent plea for Buford O. Furrow Jr. at the white supremacist's arraignment in federal court Monday.
Furrow has allegedly confessed to killing U.S. postal worker Joseph Ileto and to a shooting spree at the North Valley Jewish Community Center, in which five people, including three children, were wounded.
Magistrate Judge Stephen Hillman entered the plea for Furrow after the suspect's public defenders said their client was not prepared to do so.
While federal charges against Furrow relate only to his alleged killing of Ileto, the government could also add hate crime allegations that encompass the attack on the Jewish center in Granada Hills.
If convicted, Furrow could face the death penalty on the federal charges, as well as on separate state charges.
The well-regarded federal public defender's office has assigned two of its top attorneys, Deputy Public Defender Sean Kennedy and Senior Litigator Marilyn Bednarski, to represent Furrow.
Experts believe that given Furrow's alleged confession and the overwhelming evidence against him, his attorneys are likely to put forward some form of mental illness defense.
After Furrow turned himself in to the FBI office in Las Vegas the day after the Aug. 10 shooting rampage, he allegedly told agents that his attack on the Jewish center was "a wake-up call to America to kill Jews."
In response to another apparent California hate crime, police in San Jose arrested three suspects for hurling a Molotov cocktail Monday morning at the home of a judge they mistakenly believed to be Jewish.
Police arrested two 17-year-old boys and a 19-year-old man on suspicion of committing a hate crime, terrorism and arson. The target was Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Jack Komar, whose home was also defaced with swastikas last year.
Komar is Catholic, but Deputy Police Chief Donald Anders said: "It is very clear that the hateful motive involved in the firebombing was because the suspects believed that the residents living in that particular house were Jewish. That was the primary motive."
Racist literature, paintball pistols and pellet guns were confiscated at the suspects' homes.