JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A 26-year-old man charged last month in the abduction and killing of a 20-year-old woman in January 2011 pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday.

Kenneth Thompson is charged with murder in the death of Michelle McCoy. He was long considered a person of interest in McCoy's slaying and was the last person seen with her the day she disappeared, according to Jacksonville police.

Thompson's next court date is set for Jan. 17.

Michelle McCoy Thompson was arrested in connection with robbing a Metro PCS just a couple weeks after McCoy's disappearance. He was later convicted of armed robbery and other offenses in connection with that holdup and is serving a life sentence.

Melissa McCoy, Michelle's sister, spoke with reporters Wednesday after attending a short hearing for Thompson. While he is already serving a life sentence, McCoy's family still wants to see him feel the full weight of the law.

"It's a good thing for us to come back to court because we know this process is still going on, we're going to get through it," Melissa said. "And the family, we're going to stay strong and we're going to make it."

While the family is determined to keep going, they wouldn't hide that it is difficult for them.

"Just getting hurt each and every day, and every year," Michelle McCoy's grandmother, Harriet Winn, said. "Coming here hurts. It's painful."

Thompson was returned from state prison to Duval County last month and booked on charges of kidnapping and murder.

The Metro PCS robbery is connected to, and the motive behind, McCoy's death, investigators said. They said McCoy had a stolen phone they believe Thompson was trying to get back.

Larry Thompson McCoy was seen being dragged into a minivan by a group of people in Northwest Jacksonville on Jan. 10, 2011. She was reported missing Jan. 13, and police did not go public with her kidnapping for nearly three weeks. Her remains were found days later in a Northside lot.

Tips also led police to their prime suspect in the abduction. Larry Thompson (pictured, left), a convicted rapist who pledged not to go back to jail, committed suicide during a SWAT standoff about a week after McCoy's remains were found.

No one had been charged with murder in McCoy's death until Thompson's nephew, Kenneth Thompson, was charged.

According to a police report, Kenneth Thompson admitted he helped kidnap McCoy, but Larry Thompson strangled, pistol-whipped and drove over McCoy with their minivan.