Suspect in Laguna Beach murder pleads not guilty; accused of killing woman with fire extinguisher

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Tuesday, November 21, 2023
Suspect in Laguna Beach murder makes first court appearance
A man pleaded not guilty in the murder of a 27-year-old woman in Laguna Beach.

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- A man charged with murder in connection with the death of a 27-year-old woman whose body was found in Laguna Beach pleaded not guilty Monday.

Dino Rojas-Moreno, 26, was charged Friday with special circumstances murder during a kidnapping with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. The weapon was a fire extinguisher, the criminal complaint alleges. He pleaded not guilty through an attorney during his court appearance.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Orange County Superior Court, Rojas-Moreno is accused of using a fire extinguisher as a weapon in the killing of Tatum Goodwin, which he allegedly committed "in the commission and attempted commission of the crime of kidnapping."

RELATED: Grim details emerge in killing of woman found in Laguna Beach alley

A man has been charged with murder in connection with the death of a 27-year-old woman whose body was found in an alley in Laguna Beach, prosecutors said.

Rojas-Moreno remains in custody without bail.

"Mr. Rojas Moreno unequivocally denies the allegations against him," read a statement issued by Rojas-Moreno's attorney Chris Bou Saeed. "We look forward to fighting these allegations in a court of law - not in the press, not on TV, and not online. We will do so based on facts admissible in a court of law, not press releases, not leaks, and not rumor and innuendo."

Goodwin, a San Clemente resident, was found dead by a construction worker Sunday morning in a secluded area behind the restaurant where she worked, authorities said. Whether she and the suspect knew each other remains unclear.

The body of a 27-year-old woman was found in an alley near the Laguna Beach restaurant where she worked, according to friends.

Family and friends of Goodwin spoke with Eyewitness News outside the courtroom Monday. Though they did not wish to be interviewed on camera, they said they don't know Rojas-Moreno and claim Goodwin didn't either.

"There is no soul to look at there," Goodwin's sister told ABC7.

"It was a random act of sinful hate," added a family member.

Rojas-Moreno, who is a bartender, allegedly approached the victim in a parking lot near the crime scene about 1 a.m., according to prosecutors. The two worked in the same area, but it was unclear if the defendant was working that evening.

When her body was found, a sandbag had been placed over her head, prosecutors said.

Investigators suspect he dragged the victim to the rear of the parking lot and down an alley behind a movie theater that is under construction, where he allegedly beat her to death with the fire extinguisher, prosecutors said.

Rojas-Moreno' pretrial hearing is scheduled for Jan. 30.

City News Service contributed to this report.