Man ordered to stand trial in girlfriend's beating death - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Man ordered to stand trial in girlfriend's beating death

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VISTA (CNS) - A Vista man accused of beating his girlfriend to death and stashing her body in debris behind a shopping center trash bin must stand trial on a murder charge, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Kirk Leon Stapleton, 54, is charged in the August death of 47-year-old Juanita Kawash.

The defendant was already jailed on unrelated allegations when he was re-arrested Sept. 4 on suspicion of murder, according to San Diego County sheriff's Lt. Glenn Giannantonio.

He is accused of killing Kawash, then covering her body in plastic and other debris and leaving it 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 on Aug. 19.

According to testimony at Tuesday's preliminary hearing, the beating of Kawash allegedly occurred because Stapleton found out she had been exposed to the AIDS virus.

Superior Court Judge Blaine Bowman determined that enough evidence was presented for the defendant to stand trial April 2. A readiness conference was set for March 4.

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