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Bartender murder suspect pleads not guilty

February 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A Redondo Beach man, suspected of killing a popular Manhattan Beach bartender and dumping her body in the San Bernardino mountains has pleaded not guilty to murder charges.Tony Lopez Perez, 35, entered the plea during an arraignment in San Bernardino Superior Court. Cori Desmond, 28, of Torrance, was last seen alive on February 15 at the Bac Street Lounge in Redondo Beach. An ATM camera later captured her image walking from her car to a bar to use the restroom, but she was turned away.

A motorist found Desmond's body the following day on the west side of Highway 330, on the way to Running Springs.

Prosecutors say Perez's motive was "a sexual nature".

Perez is charged with one count of murder. He returns to court March 2 for a pretrial hearing. A jury trial for Perez has tentatively been set for March 15.