A 31-year-old man accused in the fatal shooting of a fellow Santa Ana resident in July pleaded not guilty Monday to a murder charge.

Juan Yepez Martinez, who is accused of killing 40-year-old Carlos Sanchez Benitez, also faces a sentencing enhancement allegation of discharging a firearm causing death, according to court records.

Martinez, who entered his plea at his arraignment in the jail courtroom in Santa Ana, was ordered to return to court Nov. 19 for a pretrial hearing in the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

Just before 12:25 a.m. July 20, police responded to a report of a gunshot victim in a vehicle in the 500 block of South Flower Street, Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said. Benitez was slumped over the wheel of the car with gunshot wounds to his upper body and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Martinez and Benitez allegedly had some sort of ongoing dispute, but Bertagna did not have details.

Detectives retrieved a rifle they believe was the murder weapon while executing a search warrant, Bertagna said.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.