SALINAS (CBS SF) — A man accused of killing a 10-month-old Castroville girl who was in his care pleaded not guilty in Monterey County Superior Court Tuesday afternoon.

In a brief appearance in a Salinas courtroom, 47-year-old Jesus Vargas Espinoza pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, child endangerment and child endangerment causing death.

Dressed in orange-and-white striped jail clothing with his hands cuffed in front of him, Espinoza, who is balding with a gray beard, entered his pleas through his public defender.

Espinoza was arrested in Los Angeles County on Feb. 18 on suspicion of murdering Angelle Jenisis Negron, his girlfriend’s infant daughter.

He is being held in Monterey County Jail without bail and will return to court on March 27 for a preliminary hearing.

Outside of court this afternoon, the girl’s mother, Susan Morales, told reporters she wants justice to be served.

“I have questions and no answers, and he has them all,” she said of Espinoza.

Angelle, who was born last April 16 in Santa Cruz, was found dead in a field off of Market Street just outside Salinas city limits on Feb. 19. Her family had reported her missing several days earlier.

Angelle’s grandmother, Pompey Morales, said the family had left her in Espinoza’s care on Feb. 2 but that he did not return the baby as promised.

Morales said Espinoza and his daughter repeatedly made excuses for why they did not return the infant, including that they were taking her to Disneyland.

The baby’s mother had been dating Espinoza for about six months, the grandmother said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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