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Not guilty plea from man accused of strangling ex-girlfriend in Carlsbad

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VISTA (CNS) - A Fallbrook man accused of strangling his ex-girlfriend in her Carlsbad home one week after she took out a restraining order against him pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that could lead to the death penalty and was ordered held without bail.

Michael David Robles, 43, is charged with the Nov. 23 murder of 34-year-old Kathleen Cary Scharbarth.

Vista Superior Court Judge Marshall Hockett imposed the no-bail status, saying Robles was "an extreme danger" to the community and a flight risk.

The victim's sister stood and stared at the defendant as he was arraigned.

Deputy District Attorney Kelly Mok told the judge that Scharbarth ended an on-again, off-again eight-year relationship with the defendant last February.

On Nov. 13, the victim told the defendant that she was involved with someone new, that there was no hope of getting back together, and to leave her alone, the prosecutor told the judge.

But Robles continued to harass the victim, and on Nov. 16, he borrowed a car so he wouldn't be recognized and barged into Scharbarth's apartment in Carlsbad as she spent time with her new boyfriend, Mok alleged.

A confrontation ensued, and Robles left.

The next day, the victim obtained a temporary restraining order against the defendant, according to the prosecutor.

Mok said Robles continued to plead with Scharbarth to get back together and on Nov. 23, he hid in some bushes outside her apartment.

About 9:30 p.m., Robles was confronted by a neighbor and ran off into a canyon, the prosecutor said.

About 11 p.m., as Scharbarth was saying goodbye to her boyfriend, Robles snuck into the apartment, Mok told the judge.

When she came back inside, Robles confronted Scharbarth and strangled her as her 13-year-old daughter slept upstairs, the prosecutor alleged.

Mok alleged that Robles went to great lengths to get rid of the victim's body, burying her in a shallow grave in Fallbrook. The next day, he had Thanksgiving dinner with friends, the prosecutor said.

Investigators discovered the defendant had plane tickets to Mexico the day after Thanksgiving, the same day the victim's body was discovered, Mok said.

Robles is charged with murder and a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait, which makes him eligible for the death penalty. The District Attorney's Office will decide later whether to pursue a death sentence or life in prison without parole if he's convicted.

A readiness conference was set for Jam. 18 and a preliminary hearing for Feb. 6.



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