A woman accused of killing her mother and dumping her body underneath a tree in San Diego’s Ramona area appeared in court Monday, with a judge setting her bail at $2 million.
On Monday, in front of a courtroom filled with about one dozen grieving family members, Ghazal pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.
A judge set her bail high due to concerns with Ghazal’s possible connections to other countries and potential flight-risk. According to prosecutors, Mansury was born in Jordan and has family in Afghanistan.
However, for the past three decades, she has lived in San Diego. For the last 14 years, Ghazal had lived with her mother at Mansury’s Serra Mesa home in the 2800-block of Amulet Dr.
Mansury was last seen alive by other family members on Sept. 23.
Ghazal told family members and police she personally last saw her mother on the morning of Sept. 24 at the Serra Mesa home. She said Mansury had gone for a walk but never returned. However, she did not report her mother missing that day.
The next day, concerned family members visited Mansury’s home and could not find her. The house was also a total mess, family members said.
They called deputies to report that Mansury was missing and an extensive search for the woman began throughout San Diego County.
For more than a week, dozens of law enforcement officers from multiple agencies searched for Mansury. All along, detectives considered Ghazal a person of interest and said Mansury was considered a "missing person at-risk."
On Oct. 2, investigators got a major break in the case when the body of a woman was discovered face-down underneath a tree in a remote field in Ramona, near the Barona Indian Reservation.
Two days later, police officially identified the body as Mansury and said the missing woman’s case was now classified as a homicide.
On Oct. 3, SDPD investigators arrested Ghazal on suspicion of her mother’s murder. Ghazal’s boyfriend, Lucio Moreno, was also questioned at police headquarters, but was later released.
The news of Ghazal’s arrest and Mansury’s murder was devastating for the family.
“I’m heartbroken; totally dumbfounded,” Mansury’s niece, Homaira Rassoul, told NBC 7 San Diego last week.
Police and prosecutors have not yet released details of Mansury’s disappearance and murder.
On Monday, prosecutors admitted they are being “tight-lipped” about the case because the investigation is ongoing. Prosecutors said they’re still gathering facts and evidence, and have not yet determined a motive for the killing.
“No motive is sometimes not upmost in a prosecutor’s mind,” said Deputy District Attorney Paul Greenwood. “It’s more of a case of what happened, and proving beyond a reasonable doubt, that may come out at a later time.”
Greenwood said Ghazal faces a minimum sentence of 25 years to life in prison, if convicted. Her preliminary hearing is set for later this month.
Last week, NBC 7 learned that both Ghazal and her boyfriend, Lucio Moreno, have criminal records. Court documents indicate that Moreno was previously tied to cases involving possession of controlled substances and possession of a loaded handgun. Ghazal has priors involving burglary and theft.
“Ghazal decided to go another direction in her life,” Rassoul told NBC 7 last week following the arrest of her cousin. “That was of course a thorn to all of us.”