EL CAJON, Calif. (CNS) – A 20-year-old San Diego resident who allegedly shot and killed a man in the parking lot of a La Mesa shopping center pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a murder charge.
Alexander Cesar Nghiem is accused in the Dec. 11 slaying of 29-year-old Escondido resident Di’Marcus Lavonne Mayes.
La Mesa police found Mayes with multiple gunshot wounds just after 9:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Marketplace at Lake Murray Village. He died at the scene.
Deputy District Attorney Meredith Kimble said Nghiem and Mayes did not know one another, but had communicated over social media for unspecified reasons prior to meeting up in La Mesa.
The prosecutor alleged that Nghiem “lured” Mayes to the parking lot, where surveillance footage showed him getting into the defendant’s car.
Kimble said Mayes stumbled out of the car less than a minute later and the defendant allegedly sped away.
A suspected motive for the shooting was not disclosed.
Nghiem was arrested one week later at his home. Kimble said Nghiem’s car was stashed at his grandmother’s house, where police found it concealed beneath a tarp. Bulletholes, bloody clothes, and two unregistered guns were found inside the vehicle, according to Kimble, who alleged that Nghiem tried to hide evidence by cleaning the car and removing part of one of the seats.
Nghiem is being held on $2 million bail. His next court date is a Jan. 19 readiness conference.