Man pleads not guilty in the torture, killing of a Los Angeles real estate agent

A Minnesota man who was charged in connection with the gruesome killing of a woman who worked as a model and real estate agent in California pleaded not guilty during a court hearing Thursday.

Maleesa Mooney, 31, was found dead inside her Los Angeles apartment on September 12.

Detectives named Magnus Daniel Humphrey, a 41-year-old resident of Hopkins, Minnesota, as “the suspect responsible for the murder,” the LAPD said in a press release. Police did not say how they connected Humphrey to the killing.

Humphrey was charged with one count of murder and one count of torture, according to a news release on Thursday from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. A preliminary hearing for the case is scheduled for March 7, the release said.

“I extend my deepest condolences to Ms. Mooney’s family and loved ones as they cope with this unimaginable loss,” District Attorney George Gascón said. “Ms. Mooney opened her home to this individual with trust, but was repaid with torture and murder. The heinous disregard for Ms. Mooney’s life will not go unpunished. Justice is being sought, and he will be held accountable.”

If convicted as charged, Humphrey will face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.

Humphrey, who was on probation for drug offenses, was taken into custody by the Los Angeles Police Department on Wednesday. He was held on no bail.

“We understand the seriousness of the situation and are dedicated to approaching this case with the highest level of sensitivity. Our primary objective is to provide Mr. Humphrey with a robust representation in the hopes of securing a fair and equitable resolution for him, while also maintaining the integrity of the legal process,” said Michael Lambrose, who is representing Humphrey.

The Medical Examiner’s report said Mooney’s body – which was discovered in her refrigerator during a police welfare check six days after she was last seen alive– had been bound with phone cords and shoelaces. A piece of clothing was stuffed in the victim’s mouth, the report said. The official cause of death was listed as “homicidal violence.”

The report also said that an unidentified man was seen on surveillance video the day after Mooney was last seen alive, carrying plastic bags into her residence and using Mooney’s key fob to activate the elevator.

California licensing records show Mooney was registered as a real estate agent for nearly two years when she was killed. Her sister, singer Jourdin Pauline, told CNN affiliate KABC that Mooney – who also worked as a model – was the “most amazing girl ever.”

“We’re supposed to grow old together,” Pauline told KABC last September. “That’s not supposed to happen to her.”

Humphrey was convicted on a federal count of possession with intent to distribute heroin in 2016, court records show, and sentenced to six years in prison, plus five years of supervised release.

Humphrey was arrested in Minnesota months ago on a probation violation, and US Marshals turned Humphrey over to the custody of Los Angeles County Wednesday.

Humphrey waived extradition in Minnesota and was jailed in Los Angeles without bond Wednesday, jail records show.

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