A third person accused of taking part in the slaying of a 29-year-old man in front of Valley Center Library last winter pleaded not guilty Friday to a murder charge.

Sandra Guadalupe Garcia, 22, allegedly was involved in the fatal shooting of documented gang member Jose Ortiz in the 29000 block of Cole Grade Road, according to sheriff’s officials.

Two other members of a North County street gang — a different one than that of the victim — are also charged with murder in connection with the slaying and have pleaded not guilty. All three were acquainted with Ortiz, Lt. Kenn Nelson said.

Like Garcia, Guillermo Bravo, 20, and 21-year-old Jonathan Gonzalez were in jail on unrelated charges when they were arrested in the homicide case. Officials have declined to disclose the role that any of them allegedly played in the Feb. 27 killing, although Gonzalez is charged with an allegation that he personally used a firearm in the killing.

Shortly after 7 a.m. that day, deputies responding to a report of a fight found Ortiz, a transient, mortally wounded inside his parked Honda Accord, according to sheriff’s officials. He died at the scene of the shooting.

Following the gunfire, the shooter fled along with several cohorts in an older-model white car with a black driver’s-side door. The vehicle has been located and impounded as evidence, the lieutenant said.

The slaying apparently stemmed from a prior argument, according to Nelson, who declined to elaborate. Investigators are still looking for outstanding “persons of interest” in the case, he noted.

At the time of her arrest in connection with the fatal shooting, Garcia, an Escondido resident, was in custody on various drug and theft charges. She will be back in court Aug. 22 for a readiness conference and Aug. 24 for a preliminary hearing. Bail was set at $1 million.

Bravo and Gonzalez are in due in court Tuesday for a readiness conference and next Thursday for a preliminary hearing.

—City News Service