MAYS LANDING, N.J. - Craig Arno and Jessica Kisby had little to say Wednesday as their lawyers entered not-guilty pleas on their behalf to kidnapping and carjacking charges in a case authorities believe ended with the killing of Atlantic City tourist Martin Caballero.
Arno and Kisby, handcuffed, shackled, and dressed in orange prison jumpsuits, appeared before state Superior Court Judge Michael Donio for an initial appearance in the high-profile case.
Arno, 44, whose criminal history dates to 1981, appeared dazed and stared at the floor during the brief session. His right hand was wrapped in a bandage, and the left side of his head appeared to have been burned.
Authorities said Arno, of Atlantic City, also had burns on his chest at the time of his arrest at a Black Horse Pike motel outside Atlantic City.
The car stolen in the kidnapping was found on fire.
Kisby, 24, stood nervously beside her lawyer, Steven Scheffler, during her hearing. She lives in Egg Harbor Township and is the mother of a 5-year-old.
After the hearing, Scheffler said his client was "upset by these charges." But the lawyer said he had not questioned her in detail about the case.
He said he did not know what relationship, if any, there was between Arno and Kisby.
"There's a lot of circumstantial evidence out there," Scheffler said. "I'm just waiting for the [Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office] to complete its investigation. . . . There's absolutely more to this than what we've been told so far."
Arno and Kisby are the primary suspects in the disappearance of Caballero, 47, a North Jersey grocer who was abducted from a casino garage May 21 after dropping his wife and 22-year-old daughter at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort.
The family was planning to celebrate the daughter's birthday at the casino-hotel.
A body believed to be Caballero's was discovered Sunday by the side of a farm road in Hamilton Township, Atlantic County. Authorities are awaiting a positive identification.
During the hearing, Atlantic County Prosecutor Theodore Housel told Donio that "we anticipate new charges . . . in the near future."
Housel declined to elaborate when questioned by reporters after the 10-minute court session.
The tight-lipped prosecutor would not comment on the cause of death, but said he was "highly confident" the remains are those of the missing grocer.
Caballero's abandoned car was found on fire in Gloucester Township a few hours after the alleged abduction, which authorities believe occurred around 10:30 p.m.
Video surveillance cameras, authorities say, show Arno and Kisby approaching Caballero in the parking garage. Another camera later showed Caballero's white Lincoln MKS sedan leaving the garage followed by a silver Toyota.
A short time later, Caballero's ATM card was used to make a maximum $300 withdrawal. Records also show the card was used to buy fire starter and five gallons of gasoline in a container.
Arno said little during Wednesday's hearing as his attorney, public defender Eric Shenkus, entered the not-guilty pleas to the kidnapping and carjacking charges and to additional charges of armed robbery, assault, and weapons offenses tied to what Housel said was a robbery at a K-mart in Pleasantville on May 24.
The prosecutor would not supply details about that crime and declined to comment when asked if it was related to the kidnapping three days earlier.
Arno's criminal record dates to 1981, when he was arrested in Philadelphia for a drag-racing accident in which a woman, a nurse on her way to work, was killed. Arno originally was charged with murder after, authorities alleged, he crashed head-on into the woman's car while racing on City Avenue at up to 80 m.p.h. The charge was reduced to manslaughter, and he was sentenced to five years' probation.
Records indicate he has been in and out of jail as an adult on charges of bank fraud, credit-card fraud, counterfeiting, and parole violation in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Texas.
Donio set bail at $500,000 for Arno and $400,000 for Kisby, who has a conviction in an assault case. The judge scheduled bail hearings next Thursday.
Housel indicated that additional charges would be filed before that hearing. He said Arno also faced potential parole-violation charges for state and federal offenses for which he had already served time.
The defendants, who were arrested Friday at the Golden Key Motel, are being held in the Atlantic County jail.
The Golden Key was the motel behind which the bodies of four murdered prostitutes were found four years ago. That case is still under investigation by Housel's office. Authorities say there does not appear to be any connection between those murders and the Caballero case.