A reputed San Pedro gang member charged with the execution-style murders of two Marymount College students from Japan pleaded not guilty Tuesday, as did his alleged accomplice in the high-profile case.
Raymond Oscar (Mugsy) Butler, 18, appeared in shackles and street clothes for his arraignment before Long Beach Municipal Judge James B. Pierce, authorities said.
Butler, who faces the death penalty if convicted, is charged with the March 25 slayings of Takuma Ito and Go Matsuura, both 19, in the parking lot of a Ralphs supermarket on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The killings ignited bitter criticism in Japan and prompted calls of condolence from President Clinton, Gov. Pete Wilson and U.S. diplomats.
Butler could face the death penalty because the killings were multiple murders and committed during a robbery. He also is charged with two counts of second-degree robbery and two counts of carjacking Ito's white 1994 Honda Civic. Those accusations also carry special allegations that Butler used a handgun to commit a crime and that he inflicted great bodily injury.
Not guilty pleas also were entered by Butler's alleged accomplice, Alberto V. (Chato) Raygoza, 20, of San Pedro. Raygoza is not accused of having been at the scene when the two students were shot in the back of the head, but he is accused receiving the victims' stolen camera, car stereo system, clothing and miscellaneous personal items, according to the prosecutor's criminal complaint.
He was charged with one count of being an accessory to murder after the fact, and receiving stolen property.
A preliminary hearing was set for May 25.