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Couple Accused In Dismemberment Murder Pleads Not Guilty

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Melissa Hope Garcia and Edward Garcia, Jr., have been charged in the killing and dismemberment of Herbert Tracy White.

Melissa Hope Garcia and Edward Garcia, Jr., have been charged in the killing and dismemberment of Herbert Tracy White.

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The husband and wife accused of killing and dismembering a Good Samaritan who allegedly came to their aid, both pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a murder charge.

Edward Garcia Jr., 36, and his wife, Melissa Hope Garcia, 25, are charged with one count each of murder in the slaying of Herbert Tracy White.

The murder charge includes the special circumstance allegation that the murder involved the infliction of torture.

The two were arrested without incident Dec. 10 at a vacant building in the 1600 block of La Brea Avenue after several hours of surveillance following news-generated tips, according to Los Angeles police.

White’s killing came to light Nov. 29, when a maid at the Continental Hotel found part of the 49-year-old victim’s body in a backpack. The rest of his body was later found in a blanket under a bed in the hotel room.

Police believe the suspects and the victim met in Hollywood, then went to the room rented by the couple. A knife was recovered at the scene.

According to police, White’s limbs were removed from his body, which was in five pieces.

At a news conference last month, White’s relatives said he had mentioned meeting a couple at an automated teller machine and being told their hard-luck story.

White’s relatives said he tended to be kind to people because he was a handyman who had been sober for 15 years and believed he had been given a second chance at life. If someone needed a meal, money or a ride home, he was always there, they said.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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