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Los Angeles man accused of killing 3 homeless men and 1 other victim pleads not guilty

<i>Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department/handout/AP via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Jerrid Joseph Powell
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department/handout/AP via CNN Newsource
Jerrid Joseph Powell

By Taylor Romine, CNN

(CNN) — A Los Angeles man accused of killing three homeless men as they slept and another person in their home last year pleaded not guilty Monday to murder and other charges, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Jerrid Joseph Powell, 33, was charged in December with four counts of murder, one count of residential robbery and one count of being a felon with a firearm. He also faces special circumstances including multiple murders and murder in the course of a robbery, according to a criminal complaint.

CNN has reached out to Powell’s attorney for comment. Powell, who is being held without bail, is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing April 24, the district attorney’s office said.

Powell was arrested November 30 in connection with the fatal shooting of a man in a home during a robbery. Investigators using surveillance technology then linked Powell to the killings that same week of the three men in Los Angeles, the city’s Police Chief Michel Moore has said.

When Powell first appeared in court in December, the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office said in a statement to CNN: “As with every client, we are committed to presenting a vigorous defense for Mr. Powell and holding the prosecution to their burden of proof.”

The killings targeted some of the city’s most vulnerable residents as police believe the suspect shot the men as they slept on sidewalks or in alleys – one near Skid Row – in Los Angeles, home to one of the nation’s largest homeless populations. The spree prompted the city to deploy hundreds of workers and partners to warn unhoused residents a killer was still on the loose.

The first killing happened around 3 a.m. Sunday, November 26, in an alley; the second occurred the next day shortly before 5 a.m.; and a third person was killed Wednesday around 2:30 a.m, police said. The victims were two Hispanic men, ages 37 and 52, and a 62-year-old Black man, according to police.

In the other killing, Powell is accused of following Nicholas Simbolon, 42 to his home in San Dimas, robbing the father of two inside his garage and fatally shooting him, according to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Officials do not believe Powell had any prior connection to Simbolon.

Investigators recovered a gun authorities believe was used in the robbery, police have said.

People experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles already face dangerous conditions every day, Mayor Karen Bass said in December, noting four to five unhoused people die each day due to a range of causes, including violence.

California spent $17.5 billion between 2018 and 2022 trying to alleviate homelessness. The efforts included moving more than 1,300 unsheltered Los Angeles residents from the streets to motels. But during that same four-year time frame, the state’s homeless population grew.

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CNN’s Steve Almasy, Camila Bernal, Sarah Moon, Sara Smart, Cindy Von Quednow and Elizabeth Wolfe contributed to this report.

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