Deng Malual, who is charged with murder, appears at Cumberland County Superior Court with his attorney, Verne Paradie, on Wednesday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

A Portland man has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in the death of a 61-year-old Westbrook man last year.

Deng Malual, 36, appeared in Cumberland County Superior Court Wednesday afternoon to enter his plea, wearing an orange jail uniform and a blue face mask. His hearing lasted only a couple of minutes.

Malual was charged with murder on Dec. 4, less than a week after police said on Nov. 28 that they were investigating the death of Clarence James Pearson. Police found Pearson dead in his apartment at 79 Mechanic St. after receiving a 911 call.

His attorney Verne Paradie said in court Wednesday that they still have to schedule a hearing to consider whether to set new bail for Malual. He is currently being held without bail.

It was not clear Wednesday if a police affidavit supporting his arrest is still sealed to the public. Malual’s court file was not available immediately after his hearing.

Malual has a lengthy criminal history going back more than a decade, including obstructing government administration, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, carrying a concealed weapon, theft by unauthorized taking, criminal threatening and assault. He served jail time for the offenses, but never longer than a few months.

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