LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Montebello father was charged Monday with murder and kidnapping, officials announced.

Daniel Perez, 43, pleaded not guilty to one count of murder and four counts of kidnapping after his wife was found dead in the trunk of the family’s car.

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KCAL9’s Dave Lopez spoke with Perez’s attorney, Eber Bayona, who explained his client acted in self-defense.

Erica Perez’s body was discovered Dec. 10, just a day after the entire family, including the couple and their four sons, was reported missing from their Montebello home.

After her body was discovered, an Amber Alert was issued. Perez was tracked down Dec. 11 in San Diego County.

After a brief pursuit and standoff, he was taken into custody on suspicion of child endangerment and kidnapping.

His four sons, ranging in age from 6 to 11 years old, were safely taken into protective custody and were later reunited with family members.

According to police, Perez and his wife had a fight, in which she attempted to attack him with a knife.

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“During the incident, we can say it was a matter of self-defense,” explained Bayona. “She attacked him with a knife.”

Prosecutors were expected to ask for his bail be set at $1.4 million.

If convicted, he faces up to life in state prison.

Perez is scheduled to appear in court again in January.

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