Gary Sherrill (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Phoenix police released this photo of David Sebastian Sherrill, 13, taken in the summer while in Disneyland with his family.
PHOENIX (CBS5/AP) -
A 51-year-old Phoenix man who police said admitted killing his 13-year-old son with an ax pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning.
Gary Reagan Sherrill is being held on a $1 million bond and entered his plea in Maricopa County Superior Court. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 3.
Sherrill was arrested on New Year's Eve. Officers said he told them he believed his son was a demon and was going to eat him.
On New Year's Eve, police officers were called to an apartment near 12th Street and Bethany Home Road for a welfare check. The call came from the mother of the teenage boy, identified by Phoenix police as David Sherrill.
The mother told the officers that her son was picked up by his father one day earlier. The parents filed for divorce in 2005. The father failed to return their son and she said she could not reach either of them.
Officers went to the father's apartment and talked to the father, 51-year-old Gary Sherrill. He first told officers that his son was not there. After more questioning, Sherrill let the officers into the apartment.
Once inside, they found his son dead with obvious signs of trauma. It appeared to the officers that the boy had been stabbed with cuts to several parts of his body.
Homicide detectives were called out and began questioning the father. That's when police say Sherrill confessed to the murder. He reportedly told them he was scared of his son and thought his son was a demon and was going to eat him. He then reportedly told police that he struck his son with an ax because he was fearful of his son.
Police said they got a call Christmas night that Sherrill reportedly was making threats, but responding officers couldn't find him.
Sherrill has been booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail on the charge of first-degree murder.
A status conference has been scheduled for Jan. 8.
For those wishing to donate to David's family, an account has been set up at Wells Fargo under David's name.
Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.