An Orange County bartender accused of bludgeoning a woman to death with a fire extinguisher pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him Monday.
Dino Rojas-Moreno, 26, was arrested Wednesday in Laguna Hills and charged with one count of murder with two felony enhancements: that the killing was committed in commission of a kidnapping and that it was carried out with a personal weapon, a fire extinguisher.
Those enhancements would potentially make him subject to the death penalty, according to authorities.
“The loss of an innocent life is a travesty for the entire community,” Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said in a statement.
A call to Rojas-Moreno’s attorney was not immediately returned Monday. Rojas-Moreno is due back in court for a pretrial hearing on Jan. 30.
Prosecutors allege that Rojas-Moreno, who lives in Laguna Hills, assaulted 27-year-old San Clemente resident Tatum Goodwin around 1 a.m. on Nov. 12 in a parking lot near Carmelita’s restaurant in Laguna Beach.
Goodwin had worked at Carmelita’s for four years, rising to the position of assistant manager, according to a GoFundMe campaign set up by the restaurant’s owner.
Rojas-Moreno, prosecutors allege, dragged Goodwin to the rear of the parking lot and down an alleyway to a secluded area. There, he is accused of beating her to death with a fire extinguisher, according to the district attorney’s office.
About 8:20 a.m., a construction worker found Goodwin’s body under a chain-link fence at a nearby work site with a sandbag placed on her head, authorities say.
“It is heartbreaking that a young woman with her entire future ahead of her had her life ended in such a brutal way and then discarded like her life never [mattered],” Spitzer said.
It is unknown whether there was a prior relationship between the two. Though some news outlets reported that Rojas-Moreno had worked as a bartender for Goodwin at Carmelita’s, that is incorrect, according to Kimberly Edds, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.
Rojas-Moreno called in sick to work the day Goodwin’s body was found, saying he had been jumped in Santa Ana, according to the district attorney’s office.
He is being held without bail.