Salamanca Man Pleads Not Guilty to Murdering Girlfriend's 3-year-old

March 25, 2013 Updated Mar 25, 2013 at 6:39 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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March 25, 2013 Updated Mar 25, 2013 at 6:39 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - Tears flowed in a courtroom, as a man accused of killing a toddler faced a judge.

Prosecutors are charging Justin Crouse with second degree murder and first degree manslaughter.

His attorney, Robert Goldstein, told the judge that Crouse fears for his own life.

Goldstein says Crouse is afraid he will be attacked, or worse, by his fellow inmates behind the walls of the Erie County Holding Center.

"He's very scared. The charges against him are very serious and he's in fear of his life at the holding center," Goldstein says.

Detectives say Crouse caught three-year-old Gage Seneca awake and out of his bedroom in the middle of the night at his home in Irving.

Crouse allegedly punched Gage in the head, threw him against a wall and placed him back in his bedroom.

Family members were in tears during the arraignment.

One piece of evidence that could be introduced at an upcoming trial -- a nine-hour audio-recording of Sheriff's deputies interrogating Crouse.

However, the defense is already planning on possibly poking holes in that.

"If it takes nine hours to get a voluntary statement, then we have questions about how voluntary it is," Goldstein says.

Goldstein was not sure if his client made any confessions.

Crouse is the first of two people charged in the murders of their girlfriends children this month.

Last week, prosecutors charged 16-year-old Dylan Schumaker with killing his girlfriend's two-year-old son in Springville.

Both Schumaker and Crouse are at the Erie County Holding Center.

Crouse was remanded without bail. He is scheduled to be back in court on May 6th.

Eyewitness News contacted the District Attorney, but he is not commenting on this case.