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SAN DIEGO — The husband of missing Chula Vista mother Maya Millete formally denied murdering his wife in his first court appearance Thursday.

Larry Millete appeared briefly to be arraigned on a single count of murder and one count of illegal possession of an assault weapon. He pleaded not guilty to each. Millete faces life in prison if convicted, the district attorney said.

Sitting in a blue jumpsuit and wearing a mask, Larry remained mostly silent as his lawyer, Bonita Martinez, addressed a judge in the San Diego Superior Court building in Chula Vista. He waived the reading of the criminal complaint aloud during the appearance.

Nine months after she vanished, police and droves of volunteers are still searching for signs of Maya Millete, who worked for the Department of Defense and lived with Larry and her three children in the San Miguel Ranch community of east Chula Vista.

Larry’s arrest on suspicion of killing his wife Tuesday brought an apparent end to a months-long investigation into who is responsible for her disappearance. In that time, the relationship deteriorated between Maya’s side of the family and Larry’s, members of both families said.

Investigators said in the year leading up to Maya vanishing, Larry discovered that she had an affair and she began the process of divorcing him. In a statement supporting his arrest, a detective writes that Larry devolved into “desperate, frantic, unbalanced mindset,” showing up unannounced at his wife’s work in Point Loma, searching online for substances that could incapacitate someone and enlisting the help of “spellcasters.”

Larry, meanwhile, has repeatedly denied all wrongdoing in the case. In text exchanges with FOX 5 and court filings, the 40-year-old accused police, the media and Maya’s family of treating him unfairly after her disappearance.

“I pose no threat. I am a law abiding American citizen,” he told FOX 5 in July. “My rights have been violated numerous times.”