A 24-year-old man accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death in Nipomo last week appeared in court Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to murder.
Julio Cesar Alonso, of Nipomo, was formally charged with murder late Tuesday. He was assigned a public defender at his arraignment before Superior Court Judge Dodie Harman.
He spoke quietly and showed little emotion during the hearing, answering Harman’s questions with a solemn, “Yes, ma’am.”
Harman ordered that Alonso be held without bail at San Luis Obispo County Jail while he awaits a pre-trial hearing June 21.
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Alonso is accused of killing 24-year-old Paulina Ramirez-Diaz, also of Nipomo, who authorities have identified as his girlfriend.
Ramirez-Diaz suffered a fatal stab wound to her neck early on the morning of May 31, according to the Sheriff’s Office. She was found dead when deputies responded to a home in the 600 block of Pomeroy Road after receiving a 911 call at about 3 a.m.
Investigators initially called the death “suspicious,” and Alonso was formally booked on suspicion of murder on Wednesday evening.
Because the District Attorney’s Office had yet to file formal charges, jail officials released Alonso on Friday night only to re-arrest him on site due to state law that requires inmates be arraigned within 48 hours of arrest, excluding Sundays and holidays.
Immigration Customs Enforcement officials have said that Alonso was previously deported to Mexico in August.
ICE officials were alerted to Alonso’s citizenship status in December 2015 while he was serving a prison sentence related to a conviction in another case. After the judge ordered his removal from the U.S. in immigration proceedings in August 2016, Alonso was “deported to Mexico that same day,” according to the agency.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials confirmed that he began serving a 4-year sentence in 2014 for evading or attempting to evade a peace officer while driving recklessly, possession of a controlled substance, burglary in the second degree, vandalism, and driving under the influence causing bodily harm.
Those crimes all occurred in Santa Barbara County.
Patricia Ashbaugh, the county public defender, could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday morning.
Ramirez-Diaz’s alleged murder is the first this year in San Luis Obispo County.