Diana Pena, 30, pleaded not guilty to murder and conspiracy charges, and she “categorically denies the allegations” against her, her lawyer, Jess Matsuda, told reporters.
Pena and her roommate, Kelsey Nichole Turner, 25, are being held without bail in the death of 71-year-old Dr. Thomas Burchard, whose body was found March 7 in the trunk of Turner’s abandoned Mercedes-Benz C300 in a remote desert area east of Las Vegas. Both Turner and Pena’s fingerprints were found on the car.
Authorities are still searching for Turner’s boyfriend, Jon Kennison, according to arrest reports.
Police have said that Burchard traveled to Las Vegas on March 1 to visit Turner, with whom he had an intimate relationship.
All three face charges of murder with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit murder. An enhancement, which carries a longer sentence if convicted, has been added to the murder charge due to Burchard’s age.
Turner was extradited Friday to the Clark County Detention Center from the San Joaquin County Jail, where she had been held since her March 21 arrest in Stockton, California.
Pena was taken into custody Saturday after turning herself in to police, her attorney said.
Police believe all three suspects had abandoned their Las Vegas home and fled the state after the killing, according to the arrest reports.
Burchard had paid their March rent in full, and had previously been paying Turner’s rent in California, his longtime girlfriend, Judy Earp, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“It’s still an ongoing investigation,” Pena’s attorney said outside the courtroom. “So there’s a lot of discovery and evidence we have to look through.”
Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Pro Tem Jeannie Hua, who set Pena’s bail, ordered her back in court later this month.