Bishop David O’Connell: Suspect in Los Angeles Bishop’s Death Pleads Not Guilty to Murder Charge

(CNN) A man accused of shooting and killing a Los Angeles bishop in February pleaded not guilty during a hearing Wednesday.

Carlos Medina, the 61-year-old husband of Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell’s housekeeper, remains in custody on $2.03 million bond.

The defense team is “in the early stages of the investigation,” Medina’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Pedro Cortés, said in a statement, adding that “it would be premature to comment on the merits of the case.”

Medina was arrested on February 20 in connection with O’Connell’s death, authorities said. He was charged with one count of murder and a special charge that he personally used a firearm, according to a press release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office on February 22.

A preliminary hearing has been set for May 17.

O’Connell was found shot to death on February 18 at his home in the Hacienda Heights community, about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

“This was a brutal act of violence against a person who has dedicated his life to making our neighborhoods safer, healthier and always serving with love and compassion,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said in a press conference announcing the murder charge.

O’Connell, 69, was a mainstay in the Los Angeles area known for his compassionate work and advocacy for the immigrant community, as well as other vulnerable groups, including the homeless and those in need. He was praised by officials as a community peacemaker.

Detectives began investigating Medina after an informant alleged that he had been acting strangely and made comments that the Bishop owed him money, Sheriff Robert Luna said in February. Detectives also learned that surveillance video showed an SUV similar to the one Medina is known to drive recently stopped in the driveway of the bishop’s home and left a short time later, Luna said.

However, the sheriff’s department emphasized at the time that investigators did not know the motive for O’Connell’s murder.

“When (Medina) was interviewed … he gave several different reasons, and none of them made sense to investigators,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Michael Modica. “So we don’t think there’s any validity to debiting money.”

Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell, right, at a Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles in June 2018.

Medina, in addition to being married to the bishop’s housekeeper, had worked in the bishop’s house, Luna said.

Medina was taken into custody at his home in Torrance, about 35 miles southwest of Hacienda Heights, after an hour-long standoff with police, authorities said.

At Medina’s home, investigators found two firearms and “other evidence possibly linking Medina to the crime,” the sheriff said. The weapons still needed to be examined to determine if they were related to the bishop’s murder, Luna said.

CNN’s Taylor Romine, Josh Campbell and Aya Elamroussi contributed to this report.