An 18-year-old California woman pleaded not guilty to the charge of being an accessory to the murder of a homeless man.
Hailey Jordan Suder was arrested June 16 in connection with the murder of 50-year-old George Lowery on April 24. She is being held on $100,000 bail and faces more than three years in jail if convicted, according to KSWB.
Suder is the third person to be arrested for Lowery's murder. Brothers Larry Mostrong, 21, and Preston Mostrong, 19, were charged in April with murder and torture. They have also pleaded not guilty.
The victim was found tied up and unconscious by his wife, who lived with him in a homeless encampment in the bed of the San Diego River in Santee. He had suffered severe trauma to his upper body and head.
He was taken to the hospital, where he died four days later.
Police believe the crime was the result of a fight Larry Mostrong had gotten into with a number of homeless people on April 20. They are uncertain whether Lowery was involved in the incident.
Details about Suder's alleged role in the murder have not been released.
Neighbors and classmates said they were surprised by her arrest.
"No one knew it was her. We remember hearing about it in Santana but no one ever thought it was one of us. So that's the shocking part, really," a classmate told KNSD.
"If you know they're beating the guy to death, stop it. Do anything you can. Yell for help," neighbor Lisa Kruis said.
According to a friend who did not want to be identified, Suder had been dating the older of the two brothers.
The victim's wife told KNSD that her husband had previously been beaten following a dispute over a paintball gun, and that he had tried to protect another homeless man a week before his death.
A friend of the victim's family described Lowery as a loving father of four who had recently become a grandfather, according to KSWB. She was unsure of how or why Lowery had become homeless.
Suder's preliminary hearing is set for July 5.