PETERSBURG, Va. -- The man accused of killing a family of four and avoiding police for more than a year spent the day in a Petersburg courtroom.
Alexander Hill Jr., the man facing four first-degree murder charges, was found not guilty of a minor charge against him Friday afternoon.
There was heavy security inside and outside of the courtroom for the nearly four hour hearing and WTVR CBS 6 cameras spotted a drone flying around the courthouse before the start of the preliminary hearing.
Close to 50 family members and friends of the victims packed one side of the courtroom while Hill sat next to his attorney on the other side.
Hill, who was dressed in a green jumpsuit and bulletproof vest, showed no emotion during the hearing as he leaned over to consult his attorney.
Commonwealth's Attorney Cassandra Conover called about seven witnesses to testify, including Hill's ex-girlfriend, Vivian Chase, who told the judge she received more than a dozen threatening phone calls from Hill in the days leading up to the murders.
Chase said Hill stated he was going to kill her and her family after the two split up from what appeared to be a tumultuous relationship.
She cried on the stand while recounting that tragic Friday night when she left her home on Harding street to return early Saturday morning to see the house burning. And then, later learn that the bodies of her mother, sister, niece and nephew were inside.
Prosecutors also played the 911 tape in court in which you could hear Chase's niece whisper for help. Then the line went dead.
The 911 operator called backed several times. Then someone answered and the victim could be heard screaming in the background.
At that point, there was a gasp in the courtroom and the victims' family members were crying. Some had to leave the room.
A third witness, whose daughter was married to Hill, testified that he knocked on her door the day of the murders, grabbed a butcher knife and told the woman not to tell anyone he had been there.
The judge ruled that there was enough evidence for this case to go before a grand jury on Dec. 17.
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