Handyman accused of killing SDSU employee pleads not guilty

Mary Shojai found dead in Santee home

SAN DIEGO -  

A handyman bludgeoned to death a San Diego State University administrator, using a mallet and some candlesticks, as she tried to break off a romantic relationship, prosecutors alleged Friday.
 
Paul Carl Tomasini, 64, pleaded not guilty Friday to a murder charge for Sunday's death of Mary Shojai, 62. Judge Charles Ervin ordered that he be kept in jail on $2 million bail.
 
"They had been dating approximately three years," Deputy District Attorney Amy Colby said about Tomasini and Shojai, the director of student disability services at SDSU. "It appeared she was trying to break off the relationship."
 
The prosecutor told the judge that Shojai had been scheduled to pick up a friend at the airport, but failed to show. When the traveler went to the woman's home in the 10500 block of Strathmore Drive in Santee, she saw the defendant pacing inside, Colby said.
 
According to the prosecutor, both the friend and the defendant called law enforcement, and deputies who responded around 10 p.m. found the mother of two adult children on the floor, in a pool of blood.
 
Investigators found two large candlesticks and a wooden mallet nearby, she said.
 
"On the base of the mallet and the candlesticks were discovered blood and hair," Colby said.
 
She said an autopsy determined that she had been struck about 17 times.
 
Tomasini faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted, and an additional year for each of three weapons allegations lodged against him.
 
He was hospitalized after his arrest, and his arraignment was delayed by two days, but Colby would not address his medical condition.
 
The judge scheduled a readiness conference for Oct. 12 and a preliminary hearing for Oct. 19.
 
According to the university's website, Shojai worked for 37 years at SDSU, where a colleague called her "a transformational leader" who got things done.
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