Escondido Police vehicles. File photo courtesy of the department

A man who was rescued from a burning car after he allegedly pummeled his mother to death with a hammer pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a murder charge.

Sean Devin McCarthy, 29, is accused of killing his mother on June 8, the same day Escondido police found him inside a car on fire in the 1800 block of Foothill View Place.

McCarthy was rescued by fire personnel and taken to a hospital burn ward in “grave” condition, according to San Diego County sheriff’s Lt. Thomas Seiver. He remains hospitalized.

His mother, 68-year-old Denise McCarthy, was found dead inside her home on El Toro Lane in San Marcos.

While police only identified her cause of death as blunt force trauma, the criminal complaint alleges McCarthy used a hammer in the killing.

Last week, the sheriff’s department announced that McCarthy was under arrest in connection with his mother’s slaying. A suspected motive for the killing has not been disclosed.

In addition to murder, McCarthy faces a weapon allegation for his alleged use of the hammer in the crime, and special circumstance allegations of torture, lying in wait and committing the murder in the commission of a burglary, meaning he could face capital punishment should prosecutors elect to pursue it.

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