Jason Chase Riley faced a judge for the first time Monday morning.
He's accused of killing his former girlfriend, Hollie Adcock, at her East Memphis apartment in April 2017.
Initially, police believed it was a suicide, but said new evidence led them to Riley's arrest. Investigators said Riley forged a suicide note, planted the gun next to her and lied to police.
More than a year later, Riley was arrested for first-degree murder among other charges.
"I know he was shocked and surprised. I was surprised, but I don't know why they waited the year and what additional information the state has come upon," said Riley's attorney, William Massey. "It was found to be a suicide, but then it turns into a first-degree murder. That's strange."
Investigators said they found voicemails, texts and phone calls from Riley threatening Adcock if she broke up with him.
The two were from Dyer County.
Adcock was just 22 years old when she died.
"Family is emotional. They love her. It`s been a long process," said prosecutor Paul Hagerman.
He said he couldn't talk about that long process.
"It wouldn't be proper for me to say much," he said.
Riley will be back in court next month.
"Between now and then, we will seek to get discovery from the state and then we will know more about the case and what we are going to do with it," said Massey.