Photo by bloomsberries / via Flickr

A man suspected of gunning down a romantic rival outside a Point Loma Heights gym, then fleeing to Mexico and hiding out for two years, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder and stalking charges.

Ernesto Castellanos Martinez, 44, was extradited to the United States in March in connection with the Feb. 25, 2018, slaying of 27-year-old Alexander Mazin, according to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

Shortly before 11 a.m. that day, patrol officers responding to reports of gunfire found Mazin mortally wounded in a rear parking lot at 24 Hour Fitness, 3675 Midway Drive, police said. He died at the scene from gunshot trauma to his upper body.

The victim’s parents told reporters their son had been going out a woman whom Martinez previously had dated, and that the suspect had assaulted her several weeks prior to Mazin’s slaying.

Martinez, who was arraigned via video conferencing, is being held without bail at San Diego Central jail. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted, according to prosecutors.

Martinez will return to court June 30 for a status conference.

–City News Service