01:58 - Source: CNN
Parishioners heartbroken over shooting death of Los Angeles bishop
CNN  — 

A man who is accused of shooting and killing a Los Angeles bishop in February pleaded not guilty during a Wednesday hearing.

Carlos Medina, the 61-year-old husband of the housekeeper for Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell, remains in custody on $2.03 million bail.

The defense team is “in the early stages of the investigation,” Medina’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Pedro Cortes, said in a statement, adding that “it would be premature to comment on the merits of the case.”

Carlos Medina, the 61-year-old husband of the housekeeper for Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell, was arrested Monday in connection with O’Connell’s death, authorities said.

A preliminary hearing was set for May 17.

O’Connell was found fatally shot Saturday afternoon at his home in the community of Hacienda Heights, some 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

“This was a brutal act of violence against a person who has dedicated his life to making our neighborhoods safer, healthier, and always serving with love and compassion,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said Wednesday in a news conference announcing the murder charge.

The charge comes as authorities are working to identify the motive in the death of O’Connell, a 69-year-old praised by officials as a community peacemaker. O’Connell was a pillar in the Los Angeles area who was known for his compassion and advocacy work for the immigrant community as well as other vulnerable groups, including those experiencing homelessness and those in need.

Detectives started looking into Medina after a tipster alleged he had been acting strange and made comments about the bishop owing him money, Sheriff Robert Luna said Monday. Detectives also learned that surveillance video showed an SUV similar to one Medina is known to drive had recently pulled into the bishop’s driveway and departed after a short time, Luna said.

However, the sheriff’s department has stressed investigators don’t yet know the motive for O’Connell’s killing.

“When (Medina) was interviewed … he said several different reasons, and none of them made any sense to investigators,” sheriff’s Lt. Michael Modica said Wednesday. “So we don’t believe there’s any validity to the owing of money.”

Damian Dovarganes/AP
Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell, right, is seen at a Mass inthe Los Angeles Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Junse 2018.

Medina, besides being married to the bishop’s housekeeper, had done some work around the bishop’s house, Luna said.

Medina was taken into custody Monday at his home in Torrance – roughly a 35-mile drive southwest of Hacienda Heights – after an hourslong standoff with police, authorities said.

At Medina’s home, investigators found two firearms and “other evidence possibly linking Medina to the crime,” the sheriff said Monday. The guns still needed to be examined to determine whether they were linked to the bishop’s killing, Luna said.

CNN’s Taylor Romine, Josh Campbell and Aya Elamroussi contributed to this report.