BROCKTON — Handcuffed, shackled and with a swastika cut into his forehead, Keith Luke stood before the judge and smirked as the clerk read the charges in Brockton Superior Court.
Two counts of murder. Four counts of aggravated rape. Armed kidnapping. Six counts of armed assault with intent to murder. Armed home invasion. A string of gun charges.
Luke, 22, of Brockton, made his first appearance in superior court Wednesday since a grand jury handed up indictments in what authorities have called a racially motivated attack that killed two people and critically wounded a third on Jan. 21.
Luke’s plea — innocent to all charges — came as no surprise. His appearance, however, stunned those in the courtroom.
The self-proclaimed white supremacist’s head had been shaved since he was arrested on Jan. 21
and appeared in district court the next day.
On Wednesday, he was nearly 60 pounds lighter. He was sporting a beard. And in the center of his forehead was the swastika, crafted with narrow slashes, Charles Manson-style. Luke carved the swastika into his forehead recently while at the Plymouth County jail, authorities said.
It was not known exactly how he was able to etch the swastika into his flesh, but Luke is given a disposable razor to use for 20 minutes, three times a week. The razor is collected by correction officers after each use, authorities said.
While awaiting trial here, Luke is in the Plymouth County lock-down unit reserved for inmates who need protection, are dangerous or require constant supervision.
In the special unit Luke occupies, the suspect is locked in his cell, 23 hours a day. He is shackled whenever he leaves his cell. A camera monitors him in the cell. A corrections officer checks on the prisoners every 30 minutes.
In the 10 minutes it took to read the indictments in Brockton Superior Court Wednesday, Luke alternately smirked at the judge and craned his neck to glare at the victims’ families. The victims’ families silently stared back at the suspect. [.....]
As the indictments were read in court Wednesday, Luke, in a gruff voice, answered “not guilty” to charges ranging from murder to kidnapping as he stood surrounded by court officers and Plymouth County sheriff’s department deputies.
He was ordered held without bail by Judge John P. Connor Jr. Another hearing is set for June 10. Luke is accused of gunning down two people on Jan. 21 — Selma Goncalves, 20, and Arlindo Goncalves, 72 — and with wounding a third person whom he is accused of raping — all of Cape Verdean descent.
Luke then led police on a chase through the city before crashing his van. He is also charged with shooting at pursuing officers.
Luke has been held without bail since his Jan. 21 arrest. The grand jury indictments moved the case to superior court for trial.
Authorities have said Luke told police after his arrest that the killings were part of a plan to kill all “non-whites” and he had planned to end the rampage by killing bingo players at a synagogue in the city.
Luke told authorities he had spent his days online, trolling white supremacist Web sites and commenting on the message boards. Some of the Web sites he visited and commented on degraded minorities in explicit terms.
On Wednesday, Luke was brought into the courthouse alone under heavy guard. After the arraignment, he was whisked into the courthouse lockup and down to a waiting van, where he was the only passenger, to return to the jail.
Luke grinned at a photographer and two videographers waiting on the sidewalk before he was hustled into the van.