A 56-year-old felon who allegedly stabbed two men and a woman to death in separate crimes near homeless encampments in the Rancho Dominguez area over an eight-month span was charged Tuesday with three counts of murder.

Tracy Walker pleaded not guilty Tuesday afternoon at the Compton courthouse to the murder charges plus one count of possession of firearm by a felon. The criminal complaint also alleges that he used a knife in all three killings and that he was specifically in possession of a TEC-9 handgun, which is a semi-automatic pistol long banned in California.

Walker, who is being held at Twin Towers Correctional Facility in lieu of $2 million bail, was ordered to return to court on March 16, when a date is expected to be set for a preliminary hearing.

The defendant was convicted in 1993 of manslaughter and in 2011 of illegal possession of a weapon or explosives, according to the criminal complaint. Both crimes occurred in Los Angeles County.

Walker was arrested last Thursday after detectives located him at a homeless encampment next to the Compton Creek bed, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported.

The latest victim, 30-year-old Cesar Mazariegos, was discovered on Feb. 9 on the east side of the Compton Creek near Del Amo Boulevard, on a dirt embankment near where the earlier two victims had been found, according to the sheriff’s department.

Walker is also charged with the deaths of Kenneth Jones, 26, who was found Jan. 15 with stab wounds to his upper body, along with blunt force head trauma; and Patricia Loeza, 26, who was found on June 7 with stab wounds to her upper body.

Jones’ body was found in the 20000 block of South Santa Fe Avenue, while Loeza was discovered in the 19000 block of South Susana Road, roughly a mile away, according to the D.A.’s office.

“All three of the victims were killed in close proximity to each other, and all three victims appeared to have been homeless, possibly staying (at) homeless encampments at or near the Compton Creek bed,” according to a sheriff’s statement.

“Through investigation, suspect Tracy Walker … was identified as being involved in all three of the murders. While being interviewed by homicide detectives, suspect Walker implicated himself in the murders of victims Loeza, Jones and Mazariegos,” the department statement added.

District Attorney George Gascon said: “The heartless and brazen nature of these murders against some of the most helpless members of our community shock the conscience. My office will be seeking the appropriate justice given the circumstances, and that is why we are seeking a life sentence in this case.”

Assuming premeditation was involved, Gascon could have filed a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, making Walker eligible for the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. However, the D.A.’s new policy is not to impose such sentence-enhancing allegations other than in the most heinous crimes, which he has defined as including those involving children, the elderly and hate crimes.

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