A 56-year-old convicted killer who served nearly three decades in state prison for fatally beating and stabbing his stepmother pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of killing a retired doctor at her East Los Angeles home.
Timothy Chavira, who is being held without bail, is charged with the Dec. 7 murder of Editha Cruz de Leon, 76, at her home in the 3900 block of North Van Horne Avenue.
The defendant was ordered to return to court on June 22, when a date is expected to be set for a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial on the murder charge, which includes the special circumstance allegation that he was previously convicted of first-degree murder, along with allegations that he used an unknown sharp object during the attack on de Leon and that he was on parole at the time.
Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against Chavira, who was arrested in Pasadena two weeks after the doctor’s death.
The victim’s body was found a day after she was killed. She died from sharp force injuries and strangulation, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
De Leon — who had five sons and five grandchildren — had moved from the Philippines to the United States, where she was an obstetrician- gynecologist before retiring and traveling extensively across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, according to an online obituary.
Chavira was previously convicted in 1988 of first-degree murder for his stepmother’s 1986 killing, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. He was sentenced to 26 years to life in state prison and released on parole in July 2017.
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