A trial date for the 14-year-old boy charged with the murder of 12-year-old Ava White has been set.
Ava had been in Liverpool city centre with friends last Thursday when she was stabbed in the neck with a knife at about 8.30pm, Liverpool Crown Court heard.
The young girl was involved in a “verbal argument” which escalated into an “assault on her with a knife” following a Christmas lights switch-on, police said.
The force said the alleged offenders ran off up School Lane, across Hanover Street and into Fleet Street after the incident took place.
Ava was taken to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital after paramedics arrived but died a short time later.
The teenage boy, charged with her murder and possession of an offensive weapon, appeared at Liverpool Crown Court via videolink on Wednesday.
The defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, spoke only to confirm his name during the hearing, which lasted about 15 minutes.
Sky News correspondent Becky Cotterill, who was at the court, said: “It was a very short hearing today and a trial date has been set.
“Ava White was in Liverpool city centre last Thursday with friends for a Christmas light show. We know there was a verbal argument that escalated and we learnt today that Ava White was stabbed in the neck.
“It is from those catastrophic injuries that she died.
“Three other boys aged 13 to 15 were arrested but have been conditional bailed while enquiries continue.”
Honorary Recorder of Liverpool Judge Andrew Menary QC said a plea and trial preparation hearing would be held on 18 February next year.
He listed the case for trial on 16 May and said it was likely to last two to three weeks.
Michael O’Brien, defending, made no application for bail and the teenager was remanded in secure accommodation.
Officers have urged the public not to post people’s names or comments on social media in relation to the case.
Detective Superintendent Sue Coombs, who is leading the investigation, said: “Please trust us that we are doing all we can to investigate and update people on this tragic incident, and we do not want anything to jeopardise this.”
Police have issued an image of a van that may have been occupied by key witnesses to the incident.
Anyone who captured the incident or aftermath is urged to send images or footage to police here.
Since the killing, flowers and balloons have been left in Church Street in memory of Ava and a vigil will be held in the city centre on Saturday.