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One of three defendants charged with murdering a man at an illegal gambling den run out of a San Diego residence pleaded not guilty Monday to a murder charge.

Joshua Barnum, 30, is accused along with brothers Glenn Sales Montano, 40, and Alfredo Sales Montano, 32, in the June 5 slaying of 44-year-old Sean Heidleberg Nixon, who prosecutors say was strangled with a strap from a marijuana grow tent. His body was found the following morning at the home in the 6800 block of Freed Manor Lane, where the alleged gambling operation was being conducted.

Barnum was arrested last week on suspicion of murder and was being held on more than $2 million bail. Specifics regarding his alleged involvement in the killing have not been disclosed by police or prosecutors.

According to a criminal complaint, he’s charged with a single count of murder, while the Montano brothers are both charged with murder and a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait, making them eligible for the death penalty should prosecutors opt to seek capital punishment.

Barnum also faces charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and a controlled substance.

Glenn Montano was arrested June 30 and Alfredo was arrested Aug. 13, according to San Diego police Lt. Andra Brown.

The siblings previously pleaded not guilty to the charges and are being held without bail.

At the brothers’ prior court appearances, Deputy District Attorney Michael Reilly alleged they were running the gambling den out of the garage of the Freed Manor Lane home.

While there, Nixon attempted to take a fannypack containing money and was initially kicked out, but was later allowed back inside, the prosecutor said. Later that night, Reilly alleged the brothers “launched a surprise, coordinated attack” on Nixon while the victim’s back was turned.

Glenn Montano wrapped a grow tent strap around the victim’s neck, while Alfredo Montano struck Nixon multiple times and kicked him while he was being strangled, the prosecutor alleged.

Reilly said Nixon’s body was found in the garage the following day, wrapped in a plastic tarp, with the makeshift noose still around his throat.

Barnum and his co-defendants are next due in court Sept. 30.

–City News Service

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