A Grover Beach man accused of killing his roommate and then setting their apartment on fire was formally charged Thursday, but he didn’t enter a plea at his first court appearance Friday.
Manuel Jesus Perez, 41, is accused of murder and arson in what investigators say was an altercation that became physical. After Perez failed to enter a plea at his arraignment in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Friday, a further arraignment was scheduled for Wednesday.
The case remains under investigation by multiple agencies, and further charges still could be filed.
Police and fire crews responded early Monday morning to a structure fire contained to a single-story apartment in the 100 block of North 13th Street. Firefighters found the body of Joseph Charles Kienly IV inside the residence.
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Investigators from the Grover Beach, Pismo Beach, and Arroyo Grande police departments, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office and Five Cities Fire Authority were called in and determined the death was suspicious, according to a news release.
San Luis Obispo police later located Perez at an undisclosed location in the city. He was arrested on suspicion of murder and booked into County Jail, where he remained Friday without bail.
Jason Dufurrena, Perez’s appointed public defender, declined to comment on the case Friday.