Five appear in court charged with murder of Hartlepool man Michael Phillips
Seven men are now facing trial for the murder of Hartlepool man Michael Phillips.
The body of Mr Phillips, 39, was found in house in Rydal Street on June 11.
Five men appeared at Teesside Magistrates' Court accused of his murder.
No pleas were taken from any of the men, and all their cases were sent to Teesside Crown Court.
Two men have previously been charged with the murder of Mr Phillips.
Neil Elliott, 44, of Briarfield Close, Hartlepool, who is a director of waste management company Niramax, and Lee Darby, 31, of Ridley Court, Hartlepool, were both remanded in custody at a court hearing in July.
They have already pleaded not guilty to murder.
Elliott pleaded not guilty to assaulting Lee Cardwell occasioning him actual bodily harm.
Darby pleaded not guilty to possession of a stun gun disguised as a firearm on June 12.
The following five defendants appeared at Teesside Magistrates' Court on August 29.
John Musgrave, 54, of Wordsworth Avenue, Anthony Small, 39, of Rydal Street, Craig Thorpe, 36, of Young Street, Sean Musgrave, 30, of Wordsworth Avenue, and Gary Jackson, 30, of The Darlings, all Hartlepool.
James Watson, representing both Musgraves, said: “There is little we can say at these preliminary hearings.
“But for the benefit of those family members present in the public gallery, this offence is strenuously denied.
“Both men will be making a bail application at the earliest opportunity.”
All five men were remanded in custody to appear at Teesside Crown Court on September 6.
Solicitors for the men indicated they would be applying for bail in the meantime.
A provisional trial date has been set for January 6 next year.