A Costa Mesa man and his brother on Friday pleaded not guilty to murder after DNA evidence linked them to a woman's body found in Irvine that was burned beyond recognition.
Gabino Baldivia-Guzman, 32, and his brother Zenaido Baldivia-Guzman, 25, of Santa Ana, were charged with murdering a woman in September 2009. At Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach, they pleaded not guilty to the special-circumstances charge of murder during commission of a kidnapping.
Irvine police Lt. Barry Aninag told the Daily Pilot last November that Gabino Baldivia-Guzman was driving his van through Santa Ana when he picked up a prostitute. The woman did not see the younger brother when she got in the van and panicked at the site of him, Aninag said.
When she tried to escape, Zenaido Baldivia-Guzman attacked her, beat her and then strangled her, according to prosecutors.
Aninag said the brothers then dumped the woman's body in a parking lot near Red Hill Avenue and Alton Parkway, doused it with gasoline and set it on fire. When area employees reported the body to police the next morning, it was burned so badly it could not be identified.
The woman is still listed as Jane Doe in court documents.
Investigators found the DNA of Zenaido Baldivia-Guzman under the woman's fingernails. He had been ordered to submit a DNA sample to the court after a 2009 domestic violence conviction.
Both brothers were denied bail. Their pretrial is scheduled for May 27. If convicted, they face a minimum sentence of life in prison without parole.
Staff writer Joseph Serna contributed to this report.