EL CAJON, Calif. - A man accused of ambushing a female acquaintance as she walked home from a Lemon Grove bar where they had spent the evening together pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder and gun charges.
Casey Michael Tschida, 32, who is charged in the Jan. 3 killing of 30- year-old Jennifer Krajnak, was ordered held on $5 million bail.
Deputy District Attorney Gordon Paul Davis said the defendant and the victim were together for about three hours at Dirk's Niteclub on Broadway, beginning around 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 2. Tschida left the bar at 1:30 in the morning, then returned 15 minutes later with his car's headlights off and shot Krajnak in the head as she crossed the street toward her apartment nearby, the prosecutor alleged.
Krajnak died about 30 minutes after she was discovered.
After the shooting, Tschida went to his home about seven miles away, where he collected rifles, clothing, camping equipment and his dog, then drove 20 hours to his mother's home in Happy Valley, Ore., Davis said.
Once there, Tschida allegedly made comments about possible misconduct in
San Diego County and checked himself into a Veterans Administration hospital, Davis said.
Tschida was taken into custody in Oregon on Jan. 5 and was recently extradited to San Diego to face charges.
According to sheriff's investigators, there was no relationship between the defendant and the victim other than being acquaintances.
"Apparently, they had seen each other socially once, but there was no ongoing relationship," the prosecutor told reporters outside the courtroom. "From all I know, they were together from 10:30 to 1:30 in the morning on January 3rd."
A 9mm handgun believed to be used in the murder was recovered in Oregon after Tschida allegedly threw it out of his vehicle, Davis said.
Tschida faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted. He will be back in court March 29 for a readiness conference and April 24 for a preliminary hearing.