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Marine pleads not guilty to murder

July 25, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Camp Pendleton Marine has pleaded not guilty to murder in the death of a comrade who prosecutors allege was killed in a dispute over stolen drug money.Pfc. Alvin Reed Lovely entered his plea during an arraignment Friday in Orange County Superior Court. Lovely remains in the Orange County Jail, his bail set at $1 million.

Click in the Eyewitness News Story Window to watch Eileen Frere's report from Santa Ana.

Lovely walked into court with his arms and legs shackled. The 20-year-old is accused of killing a fellow Marine, 20-year-old Pfc. Stephen Serrano, last May.

Lovely is charged along with another Marine, 21-year-old Lance Cpl. Christian Carney, who posted $1 million bail after his arrest and was taken into custody by the military. Carney is accused of selling ecstasy and cocaine on base at Camp Pendleton.

Prosecutors allege stolen drug money was the motive behind Serrano's murder. Authorities say Lovely and Carney were out of town when Carney's room was broken into and the money was stolen.

"Mr. Serrano and another individual had been involved in stealing money from Mr. Carney," said Prosecutor Ebrahim Baytieh. "When Mr. Carney found out about it, him and Mr. Lovely were involved in a scheme that ended up with Mr. Serrano being dead."

Serrano's friend, also a Marine who was involved in the theft, is not being identified. Prosecutors allege Lovely and Carney took the unidentified Marine to a secluded area in San Clemente, where they threatened to kill him if he didn't name his accomplice. The unidentified Marine named Serrano, and his life was spared.

Lovely and Carney then allegedly picked up Serrano, drove him to the hilly secluded area and shot him once in the face and three times in the back. His body was discovered by a hiker two days later in a drainage ditch.

Lovely entered a not-guilty plea. He remains in custody, his bail set at $1 million. Carney, who is accused of being the triggerman, is also facing charges for allegedly trying to keep the witness -- the unidentified Marine -- from saying what happened.

Lovely is facing up to 25 years to life in prison if he is convicted. Carney, who is accused of being the triggerman, is facing up to 50 years to life in prison if convicted.

For now Carney being held at Camp Pendleton where he faces unrelated drug dealing charges. Once he gets through the military-justice system, a bench warrant has been issued to bring him back here to answer these charges.

 

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