Jorge DePina, 32, pleaded not guilty Thursday to killing his 10-year-old daughter Aleida DePina.
The Pawtucket man was indicted by a Providence County grand jury last week. Aleida DePina died in July.
DePina entered no plea at his previous arraignment on child abuse and cruelty, but the charges were upgraded after an autopsy showed she died of blunt-force trauma.
"He was a pretty good guy. I can't really say nothing wrong about him. I never saw him do anything that would lead me to believe he would do something like this," said neighbor Joaquim Matos.
Matos lived down the street from the DePina and regularly attended barbecues in his backyard. He said he has a hard time believing DePina is capable of such a vicious crime.
"It's just sad to see someone from where I live basically around the corner go through something like this," Matos said.
Thursday's court appearance was a world apart from his first arraignment in July.
DePina cried out "I want to die" in his native Cape Verdean Creole. His family members collapsed in the courtroom while the judge poured over gruesome details like bite marks and burns found all over the child's body and the blunt force trauma to her abdomen that ended her life.
The prosecution has 20 days to decide if it wants to pursue life in prison without the possibility of parole.
DePina is due back in court for a pretrial conference on April 21.