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Hillsdale Mall Shooting Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

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Hillsdale Mall shooting, David Lewis

Police on the scene of the June 9, 2010 shooting at Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo. (CBS)

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SAN MATEO (BCN) — A man charged with fatally shooting an East Palo Alto community leader outside a San Mateo mall in June pleaded not guilty to murder in San Mateo County Superior Court Tuesday afternoon.

Gregory Elarms, 58, has been charged with first-degree murder in the killing of activist David Lewis, who was gunned down near his car in the parking lot of the Hillsdale Shopping Center on June 9.

The district attorney’s office has additionally charged Elarms with illegal possession of a firearm and a special circumstance of lying in wait, which could make him eligible for the death penalty if convicted.

“We’re a long way from making that decision,” Deputy District Attorney Al Giannini told reporters outside the courtroom.

Giannini said the defense would likely bring into question the defendant’s mental state at the time of the shooting.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Boyarsky declined to comment.

Elarms was arrested on Dec. 20, two days after he contacted San Mateo police with a tip in the case, which investigators said made him a suspect, according to the district attorney’s office.

Investigators believe Elarms followed Lewis to the shopping center from the San Mateo Medical Center, where Lewis was conducting HIV testing and counseling.

Elarms is scheduled to reappear in court for a preliminary hearing on Feb. 18 at 1:30 p.m.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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