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  • The man charged with killing his former girlfriend and their 4-year-old son in October pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder this afternoon.
  • Santos-Alvarez--who used a Spanish interpreter during today's arraignment--is represented by West Orange attorney Michael Robbins. Robbins indicated Santos-Alvarez is not a legal resident of the United States and declined comment following the hearing.
  • It was only after Mesz smoked synthetic marijuana while living with his girlfriend in Union early January 2011, that he began having Biblical visions, the attorney, Michael Robbins, said of his client.
  • "He was seeing and believing things that weren't real," Robbins said in an impassioned opening statement at the trial in which Mesz is charged with three counts of attempted murder along with weapons offenses.
  • "In that shed, he was trying to save lives," Robbins said.
  • The word "allegedly" is not in the previous sentence because Mesz's attorney, Mike Robbins, acknowledges "there is no dispute about what happened. The question here is about his state of mind."
  • "This is a tragedy on many levels," Robbins said before opening arguments yesterday. "What happened to these victims is a nightmare, a true nightmare, and nobody is trying to diminish that. It was a life-scarring event."
  • "Imagine, if this was banned two years earlier, none of this would have happened," Robbins said.
  • Mesz' lawyer, Michael Robbins has argued that his client suffered from psychotic intoxication after smoking synthetic marijuana.
  • Robbins has noted that the synthetic drug is now illegal to sell or purchase.

Defense attorney, Michael Robbins rests his hands on the shoulders of his client Morgan Mesz as he presents his opening statements to the jury in what is known as the "Portal to Hell" trial." Mesz is charged with three counts of attempted murder for the hatchet attack of two women and the man who came to their aid in 2011 while high on legally sold synthetic pot. Elizabeth, NJ 1/26/16 (Robert Sciarrino | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

Michael Robbins holds a poster with the name of the chemical found in synthetic pot that he says made his client Morgan Mesz psychotic as Robbins presents his opening statement in the "Portal to Hell" of Mesz. Mesz is charged with three counts of attempted murder for the hatchet attack of two women and the man who came to their aid in 2011 while high on legally sold synthetic pot. Elizabeth, NJ 1/26/16 (Robert Sciarrino | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

Neighbor Magda Wagner looks at scarf she made for Morgan Mesz that was in evidence and held by defense attorney Michael Robbins. Morgan Mesz is charged with three counts of attempted murder following the Jan. 7, 2011 assault on Longview Road in Union. The trial is before Superior Court Judge Stuart Peim at the County Courthouse in Elizabeth.(Ed Murray | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

Morgan Mesz talks with his attorney Micahel Robbins. Mesz is charged with three counts of attempted murder following the Jan. 7, 2011 assault on Longview Road in Union. The trial is before Superior Court Judge Stuart Peim at the County Courthouse in Elizabeth.(Ed Murray | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

Jose Santos-Alvarez pleads not guilty to murdering Monika M. Potoczniak, 27, and Christopher R. Potoczniak, 4, before Judge Young on July 5, 2016. Santos-Alvarez is represented by West Orange attorney Michael Robbins.