An Orange County bartender accused of bludgeoning a woman to death with a fire extinguisher pleaded not guilty to all charges against him Monday.
Dino Rojas-Moreno, 26, was arrested Wednesday in Laguna Hills and charged with one count of murder with two misdemeanors: the murder was committed in the course of a kidnapping and it was committed with a personal weapon, fire extinguisher.
These enhancements could make him eligible for the death penalty, authorities say.
“The loss of an innocent life is a travesty to the entire community,” said Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said in a report.
Rojas-Moreno’s attorney was not immediately returned Monday. Rojas-Moreno is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on January 30.
Prosecutors allege that Rojas-Moreno, who lives in Laguna Hills, assaulted San Clemente resident Tatum Goodwin, 27, around 1 a.m. Nov. 12 in a parking lot near Carmelita Restaurant in Laguna Beach.
Goodwin had worked at Carmelita for four years, rising to the position of assistant manager, according to a GoFundMe campaign set up by the restaurant owner.
Rojas-Moreno, prosecutors allege, dragged Goodwin out the back of the parking lot and down an alley to a secluded area. There, he is accused of beating her to death with a fire extinguisher, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Around 8:20 a.m., a construction worker found Goodwin’s body under a chain-link fence at a nearby construction site with a sandbag placed over his head, authorities said.
“It is heartbreaking that a young woman with her entire future ahead of her had her life end so abruptly and then abandoned as if her life never mattered,” Spitzer said.
It is unknown if there was a previous relationship between the two. Although some media outlets have reported that Rojas-Moreno worked as a bartender for Goodwin at Carmelita’s, that is inaccurate, according to Kimberly Edds, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.
Rojas-Moreno called in sick to work the day Goodwin’s body was found, saying it had been jumped in Santa Ana, according to the district attorney’s office.
He is being held without bail.
Los Angeles Times