A former police officer being prosecuted for killing a man in the small Colorado town of Rocky Ford has pleaded not guilty.

James Ashby's lawyer entered the not guilty plea to a second-degree murder charge in court in nearby La Junta (La HUN'-tah) on Thursday. Ashby didn't speak during the brief hearing.

Ashby is accused of shooting 27-year-old Jack (HAWK'-ez) Jacquez in the back on-duty after following him into his home in October. He told investigators he thought Jacquez might be a burglar and he feared he was getting ready to hit him with a bat.

Ashby lost his job after he was charged.

The shooting shocked the community on Colorado's southeastern plains, where many wave at passing police cars and where suspects are often neighbors.