Man accused of killing bus driver eight years ago pleads not gui - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Man accused of killing bus driver eight years ago pleads not guilty

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A man accused of involvement in the fatal shooting of an off-duty bus driver eight years ago during an early morning argument at a Kensington taco shop pleaded not guilty Thursday to gang-related murder charges.

Martin Villapando, 35, who is not suspected of being the shooter, was ordered held on $2 million bail.

"The investigation is continuing, as we speak," Deputy District Attorney Tom Manning said outside court.

Villapando, who faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted, was taken into custody by federal agents at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry as he entered the United States from Tijuana shortly before 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

About 2 a.m. on March 20, 2007, transit worker Damon Green, 38, got into a conversation with Villapando while eating with a friend at a small Mexican restaurant in the 4000 block of El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego police Lt. Paul Rorrison said.

The discussion soon grew heated, and Villapando departed along with a cohort. About 10 minutes later, Green and his companion left the eatery and were allegedly confronted by the other two men. Following another hostile exchange with Green, the victim was shot.

The victim ran off and tried to take refuge a nearby doughnut shop, but the assailant fired through its front plate-glass window, mortally wounding him, Rorrison said.

Green was pronounced dead at a hospital about an hour later.

The SDPD Homicide Cold Case Unit recently uncovered new evidence that led them to identify Villapando, a San Diego resident, as allegedly being involved in Green's murder.

It was unclear what prompted the quarrel that led to the shooting.

Villapando is due back in court on Aug. 12 for a status conference. A Sept. 24 preliminary hearing date was also scheduled.

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