SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A man accused of killing his girlfriend -- a mother of two -- in the apartment they shared in the Mountain View neighborhood of San Diego pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder and misdemeanor child endangerment charges.
Damon Edwards, 40, was ordered held on $2 million bail in the death of 38-year-old Mickette Smith. He faces 28 years to life in prison if convicted.
The victim's family was in court for the defendant's arraignment but declined to speak to reporters after the hearing.
"The loss of Mickette was a great loss to this family. They're a very close-knit family," said Deputy District Attorney Mary Loeb. "She was a big part of that family and they are devastated."
Judge Lisa Rodriguez ordered Edwards to stay away from the victim's two children should he make bail.
A relative made an emergency call about 9:15 a.m. Friday to report that Smith was unresponsive and not breathing in her residence in the 4400 block of Mayberry Street. Emergency personnel found Smith dead in her upstairs bedroom, with traumatic injuries to her head and upper body, said SDPD Lt. Todd Griffin.
Detectives identified Edwards as the suspected assailant and arrested him around 7:30 p.m.
A motive was not clear.
The judge set a status conference for Sept. 11 and a preliminary hearing for Sept. 13.