Freddy Perez Rodas pleads not guilty in death of Escondido police officer wife Laura Perez

SAN DIEGO - A murder charge was filed Friday against a Murrieta man accused of killing his wife, who was an Escondido police officer.

Freddy Perez-Rodas, 27, faces one count of murder and one count of arson, according to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office. Perez-Rodas pleaded not guilty to all counts, and his bail was set at $2 million.

If convicted, he could face up to 50 years to life in prison.

Murrieta police say they believe Perez-Rodas fatally shot his 25-year-old wife, Laura Perez, in their Murrieta home on Wednesday. Detectives say Perez-Rodas then his wife's body in a storage locker Moreno Valley.

Police said Perez-Rodas returned to the home and set fire to it, but failed to burn it down. According to police, Perez-Rodas called 911 to report that his house was on fire.

Perez-Rodas was later questioned and arrested on suspicion of murder, arson and child endangerment.

In court Friday, Perez-Rodas' attorney tried to get Judge Judith Clark to lower bail, saying his roots are in Riverside County despite having family in Guatemala.

However, Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Burke Strunsky said a stash of cash was found near Perez's body.

"There is upwards of $80,000; between $85,000 and $100,000 in that locker, and so the people are concerned that the defendant may have access to other resources and will be a flight risk

In a Friday afternoon press conference, Escondido Police Chief Craig Carter and his staff were still trying to come to terms with the loss of a star rookie in the department.

"This has been a very tough couple of days … She couldn't wait to put the uniform on. She couldn't wait to put the badge on," Carter said.

The couple's 4-year-old child was not harmed and is now in the care of extended family, Murrieta police said.

10News has learned someone is attempting to use Perez's death to scam others out of money. Escondido police say the only place taking donations for the family is at Escondido police headquarters.

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