The 22-year-old Fallbrook woman who was killed and left on the side of the road texted a friend for help on the night of her disappearance, a deputy district attorney said in court on Thursday.
Louis Ray Perez and Jessica Lopez pleaded not guilty in court on Thursday to the killing of 22-year-old Brittany Killgore, a woman who went missing on April 13.
Killgore's body was found abandoned in Riverside County a few days later.
Perez, a 45-year-old active duty Marine, was arrested on Tuesday. When he appeared in court on Thursday for his arraignment, the deputy district attorney said detectives found Killgore's blood in his car. They also found a weapon in his car, but they would not specify what type, or whether it was used in the murder.
Killgore was last seen alive with Perez on April 13. On that night, detectives said she texted a friend the word "help," the deputy district attorney said. The next day, a homeless man attempted to sell her phone to a stranger. The stranger called Killgore's mother, who then called police.
Click here for a timeline of events in this case.
Lopez also appeared in court Thursday and pleaded not guilty. The judge set both Perez's and Lopez's bail at $3 million.
Perez's public defender attempted to lower his bail, saying a suicide note left by Lopez indicated her responsibility in the murder.
"The note indicates very very clearly that Perez has nothing to do with the homicide," the defender said.
The judge denied the request and ordered the note sealed.
Lopez and Perez had either lived together at one point or lived at the same residence at different times, according to legal records.
Captain Duncan Fraser with the Sheriff's Homicide Detail said Perez has been a person-of-interest since April 14. Perez was in custody until Tuesday for unrelated charges. Authorities said he stole a AR-15 assault rifle, but he plead not guilty to those charges on April 18.
Killgore's husband Cory released a statement after the court appearance on Thursday, saying how much she meant to him:
"My wife Brittany, was beautiful beyond words and her murder has left me devastated. My duty to her memory is now to ensure her good reputation remains intact, and help law enforcement and prosecutors secure justice for the person, or persons who took her away from me.
Brittany's death cannot be in vain – at this point, I don't know how to use this tragedy for good, but others have found their way and I hope to do the same. Brittany meant too much to do any less.
As my father‐in‐law said, please honor my wife's name and don't succumb to salacious gossip and rumor. Brittany was a beautiful, good person, who did not deserve this."
Lopez and Perez each face one count of first degree murder. They will appear in court for a preliminary hearing on May 30.
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