Man pleads not guilty to murder in 14-year-old cold case - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Man pleads not guilty to murder in 14-year-old cold case

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A Los Angeles-area man accused of gunning down a Chula Vista resident at the victim's home nearly 14 years ago pleaded not guilty Monday to a murder charge.

Joe Mora, 34, was arrested Friday by deputy U.S. marshals in Winnetka, according to Chula Vista police.

Judge David Szumowski set bail at $1 million.

On the evening of Nov. 28, 1999, Mora and a female companion allegedly showed up at the Paseo Burga residence of 54-year-old Sergio Morales and tried in vain to talk their way inside. When Morales attempted to shut his front door, a struggle ensued and he was beaten and fatally shot, police said.

No suspect in the case was identified until 2009, when DNA evidence on a knit cap left at the crime scene allegedly linked Mora to the killing. 

Cold-case detectives continued questioning the suspect's associates and potential witnesses before securing an arrest warrant for Mora earlier this month, according to Chula Vista police Capt. Gary Wedge. 

According to a declaration in support of the arrest warrant, Mora's girlfriend told authorities that Mora told her that he did not want to "do it" but the victim kept coming at him.

Deputy District Attorney Andrea Freshwater told the judge today that Mora's alleged accomplice has yet to be identified.

The prosecutor said authorities have evidence that Mora was liquidating his accounts and was planning to leave the country at the time of his arrest.

A readiness conference was set for Oct. 9 and a preliminary hearing for Oct. 11.

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