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Hawaiian Gardens suspect pleads not guilty

Joseph Mercado, 26, is accused of fatally shooting his former girlfriend Serena Tarin, her father and her brother in their Hawaiian Gardens home in May 2010.

September 7, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A man accused of killing his former girlfriend and two others at her home in Hawaiian Gardens has pleaded not guilty to murder.Joseph Mercado, 26, faces the death penalty if he's convicted of three counts of murder, attempted murder, child abuse and other crimes.

According to prosecutors, Mercado barged into his ex-girlfriend Serena Tarin's home by shooting off the lock on the door. He then went from room to room firing an AK-47 assault rifle.

Mercado allegedly killed Tarin, who is the mother of his infant son, and her father and brother during the pre-dawn attack in May. Tarin's mother was wounded in the attack.

Authorities say Mercado and Tarin had been locked in a custody dispute over their son.

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