• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Suspect in Norma Lopez murder pleads not guilty

Jesse Perez Torres, 35, (left) was arrested in the murder of 17-year-old Norma Lopez, who disappeared July 2010.

November 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A 35-year-old man charged with killing a Moreno Valley teen pleaded not guilty during an arraignment hearing in Riverside on Wednesday.

The arraignment for Jesse Torres was continued from two weeks ago.

Torres is accused of kidnapping and murdering 17-year-old Norma Lopez, then dumping her body in a field on July 15, 2010. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Authorities said they tied the Long Beach man to the killing through DNA evidence from an unrelated domestic violence case. It took the D.A.'s office six days to file charges.

Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Mike Soccio said there was additional evidence against Torres in the case, but wouldn't specify what it was.

Lopez was walking to a friend's house after attending summer classes at Valley View High School in Moreno Valley when she was abducted. Her body was found five days later in a remote field about 2 1/2 miles away from the school.

At the time of the crime, Torres lived across the street from the school, but prosecutors said he moved out a month later to Long Beach. He was arrested during a traffic stop.

Torres remains in custody without bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside. He is due back in court Jan. 6.