MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — The man accused of shooting and killing a St. Jude researcher in a robbery this weekend made his first court appearance Wednesday.

A judge told Marious Ward that the district attorney could pursue the death penalty in his case.

Ward, 24, is charged with first-degree murder, murder in perpetration of a felony, especially aggravated robbery, attempted murder, attempted robbery, and use of a firearm in a felony in the case.

He is accused of killing Alexander Bulakhov, 32, during a robbery Sunday evening on Tennessee Street in downtown Memphis.

Marious Ward and Brandy Rucker, accused in the shooting death of St. Jude researcher Alexander Bulakhov, appear in court for the first time since their arrest. (WREG photos)

Bulakhov was walking with his wife and 2-year-old child when he was approached by an armed man. Police say he was shot when he tried to wrestle the gun away from the suspect to defend his family.

The Bulakhovs were from Russia and had most recently lived in New York before moving to Memphis over the summer. Bulakhov was a postdoctoral researcher at St. Jude and his wife was set to start a job there in December, a family friend said.

Alexander and Anastasiia Bulakhov with their 2-year-old daughter (Photo courtesy: Sandra Ryeom)

According to information stated in court, Ward had recently been hired at Amazon and lived with his grandmother. He cannot afford an attorney and may have one appointed.

Ward is set for another report date to court on Dec. 1. He had no adult or juvenile criminal record listed in databases.

WREG went to the address listed for Ward’s grandmother for comment but no one answered the door.

Brandy Rucker is also charged in the case, and was in court Wednesday. She also was told the death penalty is possible in her case.

She admitted to driving the car while Ward allegedly robbed and shot Bulakhov. That car helped police trace the pair to Frayser, where they were arrested Monday.

Rucker’s family has hired an attorney.