A probationer accused of killing a man and dumping his body outside a Corona church pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder and other offenses.

Javier Lopez Martinez, 44, of Corona, was arrested last month with his girlfriend, 37-year-old Marena Nicolas, following a Corona Police Department investigation into the slaying of Eduardo Jesus Cortez on Aug. 17.

Along with murder, Martinez is charged with felony evading.

He was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Gail O’Rane, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for Oct. 21 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

Nicolas was arraigned last week on a charge of being an accessory after the fact and will appear with Martinez at the hearing next month.

She’s being held on $25,000 bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning. He’s being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.

According to Corona police, the victim’s remains were discovered in the parking lot of the Corona Church of Christ in the 800 block of Sherman Avenue on the evening of Aug. 17.

The nature of the man’s injuries were not disclosed.

Homicide detectives initially had no leads, but in the ensuing days, they were able to confirm the vehicle allegedly involved in transporting the body and the two people inside it — Martinez and Nicolas — according to police.

Late on the afternoon of Aug. 24, the car was spotted by patrol officers in the 1500 block of Via Santiago, prompting them to initiate a traffic stop. However, Martinez allegedly floored the sedan, leading to a brief pursuit until he plowed into vehicles parked in the 1200 block of West Tenth Street, authorities said.

He bailed out of the car and tried to run away but was apprehended moments later, police alleged.

“Several occupants of the parked vehicles sustained minor injuries and were offered medical treatment, then released at the scene,” according to a police statement.

Nicolas was not in Martinez’s car. However, further investigation led to an apartment on Via de Luna, where she was taken into custody without incident.

The circumstances behind the killing and a possible motive were not disclosed.

According to court records, Martinez has two prior misdemeanor convictions for driving under the influence. Nicolas has no documented prior felony or misdemeanor convictions.

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