A parolee accused of killing a Lake Elsinore man whose body was recovered more than a month later pleaded not guilty today to murder and other charges.
Jason Lee Schmidt could face 50 years to life in prison if convicted in the slaying of 58-year-old Leopoldo Navarrete.
Schmidt, 35, is charged with first-degree murder, resisting arrest and a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a deadly weapon during a felony.
He appeared before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Elaine Johnson, who appointed him an attorney, took his plea and set a felony settlement conference in the case for Oct. 10.
The defendant, who remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta, was arrested on Aug. 20.
According to sheriff’s Sgt. Brian Reno, investigators identified Schmidt as the prime suspect in the slaying of Navarrete, though it was not disclosed how he was linked to the crime.
When deputies found him at a residence in the 22000 block of Herbert Street in Good Hope, the parolee attempted to flee but was taken into custody after a brief foot chase, Reno said.
Navarrete was reported missing by family members on June 14, leading to a sheriff’s investigation that uncovered evidence of foul play, according to
An all-out search of the local area ensued, during which the lake was dragged, but the efforts proved futile. On July 19, a body was discovered by a passer-by near the intersection of Akley and Gillette streets, in an area known as Lakeland Village.
The remains were then positively identified as the victim’s, but the cause of death was not disclosed.
According to court records, Schmidt — also known as Daniel Lee Yerigan — has multiple felony convictions, including for burglary, theft and selling narcotics. His most recent conviction was for attempted burglary in 2009, for which he served a year in prison.