The husband of a woman who was found dead on a Jamul hiking trail nearly two years ago pleaded not guilty to murder charges Thursday.
Winnie Whitby was arrested on a murder warrant in Goldsboro, Maryland in Nov. 2018, nearly two years after his wife, 49-year-old Melissa Whitby, was found dead along Skyline Truck Trail.
On Thursday, Winnie Whitby arrived in an El Cajon courtroom in chains to plead not guilty to charges in connection with her death.
His trial date was set for April 8. If convicted, he could spend 26 years to life in prison.
Melissa Whitby was reported missing by her husband on December 30, 2016, and her body was discovered by hikers seven days later about a mile and a half away from the couple's home.
Deputies said Winnie Whitby told investigators that his wife left the home the night before he reported her missing.
The San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office determined Melissa Whitby died from trauma sustained to her upper body and confirmed the manner of her death was a homicide.
SDSO said evidence gathered over the course of their investigation linked Winnie Whitby to Melissa's death though, at the time of his arrest, the department did not elaborate on what that evidence was.
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department worked in partnership with Maryland State Police and U.S. Marshals Service agents to take Winnie Whitby into custody.
Winnie Whitby was tried and acquitted of a double murder charge in Maryland in the 1990s.