PORT ANGELES — A Renton man charged with the beating death of a woman whose body was found in the wilderness south of Blyn on Valentine’s Day will be tried May 4 after pleading not guilty to second-degree murder.
Alejandro Jesse Aguilera-Rojas, 23, entered his plea in Clallam County Superior Court on Friday.
He is charged with second-degree murder with a deadly weapon enhancement for allegedly beating Dioneth Lopez to death with a tequila bottle Feb. 11.
Lopez, of San Pablo, Calif., was 21.
Clallam County Superior Court Judge Brent Basden scheduled a three-week trial. A pre-trial status conference was sent for March 27.
Rojas remained Saturday in the Clallam County jail on $1 million bail.
The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office alleged that Rojas left Lopez for dead along a U.S. Forest Service Road in a wooded area south of Blyn on the morning of Feb. 11.
“The deceased was left essentially in the forest like a piece of trash,” said Michele Devlin, Clallam County chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney, during Rojas’s bail hearing Feb. 20.
Lopez had threatened to expose her three-year romantic relationship with Rojas, a married man, according to the affidavit for probable cause.
Second-degree murder is a Class A felony in which a person causes the death of another without premeditation.
Lopez and Rojas has stayed at the Longhouse Market for about seven hours on the evening of Feb. 10, spending much of the time in Rojas’ red Chevy Silverado pickup truck, according to the store’s surveillance footage.
Location data from Rojas’ cellphone put him in the area of the murder scene on the morning of Feb. 11, investigators said.
Investigators said that Rojas had picked up Lopez at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after her flight from California on the morning of Feb. 10 and drove Lopez to Blyn.
The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said Rojas was arrested near his residence in King County and transported by deputies to Port Angeles.
Rojas had been under surveillance of sheriff’s detectives and the FBI. The FBI was involved because the body was found on federal land in Olympic National Forest.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.