Los Angeles Fire Captain Pleads Not Guilty to Murder Charge

A Los Angeles fire captain pleaded not guilty Thursday to murdering a woman whose body was found near his Eagle Rock home, and prosecutors said they have decided against seeking the death penalty in the case.

"Based upon the criteria our special circumstance committee looks at -- background, age, et cetera, et cetera -- quite frankly he did not fit into that category of people we'd seek the death penalty for," Deputy District Attorney Robert Grace said after 50-year-old David Jaime Del Toro's arraignment in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Del Toro is charged with murder in connection with 42-year-old Jennifer Flores' Aug. 16, 2006 -- a charge that carries a 25-years-to-life term in state prison.

But a grand jury indictment handed up Nov. 7 also charged Del Toro with torturing the victim. The added charge and the special circumstance allegation of murder involving the infliction of torture made him eligible for the death penalty.

Del Toro, who had been free on bail, was taken into custody following his indictment, Grace said.

In court papers filed in September, the prosecution noted that Flores' nude body was found on a street about eight-tenths of a mile from Del Toro's home.

Investigators discovered DNA and blood evidence in a trail leading from the woman's body to Del Toro's driveway, in and around a Toyota Tundra truck parked in his driveway and on the front porch and front door knob of his home, according to the court documents.

Detectives also found blood in Del Toro's living room and in the kitchen drain, according to the court papers.

Flores was "beaten to a pulp," and suffered a broken jaw, broken ribs and a black eye, among other injuries, before she was strangled, Grace said.

The prosecutor said there was "no relationship between the two that you would say they were boyfriend-girlfriend, significant others," but they knew each other through a mutual friend and had probably recently gotten acquainted.

Among the 14 witnesses called before the grand jury were Del Toro's ex- wife and one of his former girlfriends. In court papers filed in September, the prosecutor said the two claimed Del Toro hit them while they were involved with him.

Del Toro's trial is expected to last four to five weeks, beginning sometime in the fall, Grace said.

He is due back in court April 18 to have a preliminary hearing scheduled.

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