SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A mentally ill man accused of fatally stabbing his 66-year-old uncle during an argument in their Pacific Beach condominium pleaded not guilty Monday to a murder charge.
Randy Bautista Baisa, 37, was ordered held on $2 million bail in the death of Merlino Bautista. Authorities said the defendant and the victim lived together.
Deputy District Attorney Scott Pirrello alleged that Baisa -- who has significant mental health issues, according to the prosecution and defense -- stabbed his uncle 16 times, mostly in the back. One stab wound to the left arm severed an artery, the prosecutor said.
A neighbor at The Plaza Condominiums complex on Diamond Street called 911 in the early morning hours of Jan. 17 after the mortally wounded Bautista knocked on the door asking for help.
Bautista was laying on the ground of a second-floor hallway when officers arrived on scene and immediately began administering medical aid, police said. He was taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, where doctors pronounced him dead.
Police found Baisa -- who they believed stabbed Bautista inside their residence -- at the complex and arrested him. A motive or what led up to the violence was not disclosed.
Defense attorney Stephen Cline detailed Baisa's mental health issues, saying he has recently been medicated and hospitalized.
At the attorney's urging, Judge Jay Bloom asked the Sheriff's Department to make sure Baisa was getting the medications he needs.
The defendant faces 26 years to life in prison if convicted.
He will be back in court Feb. 14 for a readiness conference and March 28 for a preliminary hearing.
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