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Not guilty plea from man accused in 2003 fatal shooting of mother of three

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VISTA (CNS) - A man accused in the December 2003 fatal shooting of a mother of three and the wounding of one of her co-workers in Carlsbad pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder and attempted murder charges.

Gilberto Mendoza Castillo, 38, was arrested Saturday in Tijuana and turned over to U.S. officials.

During his arraignment Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Tamila Ipema set the defendant's bail at $5 million.

Deputy District Attorney Ryan Saunders told the judge that the victim, Maria Munoz, dated Castillo for about one month before ending the relationship.

Munoz, 31, and Castillo had worked together for a couple of years at Cessy's Taco Shop in Carlsbad, Saunders said.

Castillo found out that Munoz was picking up a man at the taco shop the night of Dec. 7, 2003, and waited for them, according to the prosecutor.

Castillo approached them with a gun and shot her six times, killing her, Saunders said.

Castillo shot her male companion once and he fell to the ground, and the defendant shot the man three more times, Saunders said. The man survived.

An arrest warrant for Castillo was issued 12 days after the shooting.

The defendant will be back in court April 11 for a readiness conference and April 16 for a preliminary hearing.

He faces 80 years to life in state prison if convicted, Saunders said.

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