LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A 22-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to raping and killing his neighbor, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday.
Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, of Norwalk, was charged with one count of murder on Thursday, according to the district attorney’s office.
Lemus also faced special circumstance allegations that the killing was committed during the commission of a burglary and rape by use of a deadly and dangerous weapon, a knife.
On Aug. 10, 2012, he allegedly broke into the home of his 50-year-old neighbor, and proceeded to rape and stab her seven times while she tended to her garden. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the victim was later identified as Denise Battey.
Lemus is accused of then fleeing to Guatemala where he remained until he was located in December 2014, and was extradited to Los Angeles County four months later, prosecutors explained.
He is being held without bail in police custody, and faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole if convicted as charged.
Lemus is scheduled to appear in court on June 24 for a preliminary hearing.