GRETNA, La. -- The man accused of killing Jefferson Parish tow-truck driver “Big Lee” pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder Friday morning.

Wayne Higgins, 78, allegedly shot Lee Martin on May 5. The men lived next to each other on Bonnabel Boulevard in Metairie and had been involved in a yearslong spat, police have said.

He was indicted Thursday by a grand jury and remains jailed in the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center on a $500,000 bond.

His attorneys sought to have that amount reduced so he could await trial at home, but Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District left declined to do so at the request of the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s office, The New Orleans Advocate reported.

A Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office detective testified earlier this month that Higgins was recorded on home surveillance cameras as he stepped out of his truck May 5, The Advocate reported. He then pulled out a .380-caliber handgun and fired a single shot into Martin's chest, police have said.

Martin had just squirted Higgins with a hose while he was pulling out of his driveway on Bonnabel Boulevard, allegedly prompting the deadly encounter, Sheriff Joe Lopinto said after the shooting.

Higgins faces an automatic life sentence if convicted of the murder charge.

Danny Monteverde can be reached at