An ex-con accused of raping and killing a 23-year-old Murrieta woman and setting fire to the apartment where her 3-year-old son was sleeping pleaded not guilty today to first-degree murder and other felony charges.
Marquise Denzell McGlown, 22, of Hemet, could face life in prison without parole or the death penalty if convicted in the Oct. 31 slaying of Shanae Christiana Wesley. Along with the murder count, McGlown is charged with attempted murder, rape and special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and killing during the commission of a felony.
Friday he appeared with his public defender before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michael Rushton, who set a Jan. 25 felony settlement conference.
McGlown remains in custody without bail at the Southwest Detention Center in French Valley.
According to prosecutors, Wesley encountered the defendant and his friend, with whom she was acquainted, at a Temecula bar—the Bull Pen on Margarita Road—on the night of Oct. 30 and invited them back to her residence at the Waterstone Apartments, 24850 Hancock Ave.
After a while, McGlown and his friend left, going their separate ways, according to the District Attorney's Office, which alleges the defendant snatched the victim's keys before departing.
"He made his way back into the apartment after his friend was gone and is alleged to have then raped and murdered Wesley," said D.A.'s office spokesman John Hall. "McGlown then set a fire in the apartment in an apparent attempt to cover up his crimes and fled the scene by stealing Wesley's car."
A neighbor spotted smoke billowing out of the apartment in the predawn hours and rushed in, rescuing the victim's son, who suffered minor injuries. Firefighters arrived moments later, extinguished the blaze and found Wesley's remains.
The boy was briefly hospitalized, then released in good condition to the care of his extended family.
Wesley's 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt was found by investigators two days later in a Hemet parking lot, within walking distance of McGlown's home, authorities said.
The defendant was initially arrested and jailed for parole violations. Murrieta police completed an investigation and submitted their findings to the D.A.'s office a couple of weeks later, resulting in the capital charges.
District Attorney Paul Zellerbach will decide at a later time whether to pursue a death sentence if McGlown is convicted.
The defendant has a prior felony conviction for a 2008 burglary. He served less than two years in prison.