Man pleads not guilty in girlfriend's death - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Man pleads not guilty in girlfriend's death

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VISTA (CNS) - A 53-year-old man accused of beating his girlfriend to death and stashing her body in debris behind a shopping center trash bin last month pleaded not guilty Friday to a murder charges.

Kirk Leon Stapleton of Vista was already jailed on unrelated allegations when he was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of murder, according to San Diego County sheriff's Lt. Glenn Giannantonio.

Stapleton is accused of killing 47-year-old Juanita Kawash, whose body was found covered in plastic and other debris Aug. 19 behind a shopping center trash bin in the 1400 block of North Santa Fe Avenue, the lieutenant said. An autopsy showed she died of blunt force injuries, likely inflicted the day before her body was discovered.

"The motive for the killing is undetermined at this time,"

Giannantonio said, declining to say what evidence linked Stapleton to the homicide.

At his arraignment Friday, Stapleton's bail was set at $2 million and he was ordered to stay away from his brothers John and Scott Stapleton, although Deputy District Attorney Jeff Dort did not explain why.

The defendant faces 26 years to life in prison if convicted. He will be back in court Sept. 16 for a readiness conference and Sept. 18 for a preliminary hearing.

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