LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) —Two Mexican nationals pleaded not guilty Friday to killing a U.S. Coast Guard officer near Santa Cruz Island on Dec. 2.
Jose Meija Leyva and Manuel Beltran Higuera entered their pleas in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
Both men face second-degree murder, assaulting a federal officer with a deadly weapon, and other charges for allegedly causing the death of Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, 34, of Redondo Beach.
Horne—a 14-year veteran of the Coast Guard—and his team were on The Halibut, an 87-foot patrol cutter, when they were called to investigate a fishing boat operating without night lights in Smuggler’s Cove.
As the patrol boat approached, Leyva and Higuera allegedly turned their panga boat towards Horne and rammed into the Coast Guard boat.
Horne and another officer were thrown into the water.
The chief petty officer was struck by a propeller and suffered a traumatic head injury. The other officer sustained a laceration to his knee.
Horne is survived by his wife and two sons.