The Boston teenager accused of murdering an Irish immigrant pleaded not guilty during an arraignment on Monday, in a Suffolk Superior courtroom.

John Graham (17) plead not guilty to nine charges, including first-degree murder for the October 10 shooting of Galway native Ciaran Conneely (36).

Known as ‘Kiwi’ to his friends, Conneely had emigrated from the Aran Islands to the US over a decade ago. Graham allegedly shot Conneely during a botched robbery just blocks away from the Irish immigrant’s Nahant Avenue apartment around 1am. He died later that morning from a single gunshot wound to the chest.

The court room was packed with onlookers, including relatives and friends of Conneely, as well as the father of the defendant. Graham was held out of the view of the courtroom. According to Clerk Magistrate Gary Wilson, police and prosecutors have also withheld photographs of Graham to date to preserve a fair trial.
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The suspect was 16 at the time the crimes were committed but he will be tried as an adult as mandated by State law. The teenager does not have a permanent address and has been residing sporadically at the homes of relatives.

Speaking for the prosecution, Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum said that the ballistic report, surveillance, and video footage and statements made to others by Graham led to his arrest on December 20.

In relation to Conneely‘s death, Graham faces charges of first-degree murder, armed assault with intent to rob and unlawful possession of a firearm. He was also charged with two counts of armed assault with intent to rob, an additional count of unlawful possession of a firearm, armed assault with an intent to murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon, for a separate October 30 double shooting.

Graham will be held without bail and the trial will likely occur in January 2013. The teenager is due back in court for a pre-trial hearing on March 6.

Outside the courtroom, Deirdre Nikoras, Conneely’s sister, who also lives in Boston, thanked everyone who has helped since the October murder.

“We’d like to thank everyone who has helped us since we heard the news,” she told the Irish Emigrant.

“From the local police and BPD homicide detectives who have worked so hard on the case, to everyone within the Boston Irish community who have been so supportive, we really can’t thank them enough. It’s been extremely tough on us but hopefully things are progressing.”