A 19-year-old accused in the fatal beating of a 56-year-old man near a pedestrian bridge behind Petco Park pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder and torture charges.
Dominick Wells, who also faces an allegation that he inflicted great bodily injury causing the victim to become comatose, was ordered held on $1 million bail.
Prosecutor Mary Loeb said Wells faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the murder of Edward Starland. If also convicted of torture, the defendant would face life behind bars, the prosecutor said.
Four juveniles — two girls and two boys — face unspecified charges in the case.
Witnesses said Starland had been fighting with a group of young people — why was unclear — the afternoon of Nov. 18 before he was thrown down and beaten. When witnesses started yelling at the attackers to stop, they fled east on Imperial Avenue, police said.
Starland was placed on life support and died Dec. 3.
Wells will be back in court Jan. 28 for a status conference and April 2 for a preliminary hearing.
— City News Service
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