Dad in Amber Alert Standoff Pleads Not Guilty in Sons' Kidnap, Wife's Murder | NBC Southern California

Coverage of a wife's killing and her sons' kidnappings and the father arrested in a freeway standoff

Dad in Amber Alert Standoff Pleads Not Guilty in Sons' Kidnap, Wife's Murder

Daniel Diego Perez faces the charges after his wife's body was found in a trunk, and a dramatic, televised chase and Amber Alert for his children, police said.

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    A Montebello man accused of killing his wife and kidnapping his four children, sparking a statewide Amber Alert, has pleaded not guilty to murder and kidnapping charges. Daniel Diego Perez is due back in court Jan. 12. John Cádiz Klemack reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 15, 2014. (Published Monday, Dec. 15, 2014)

    A Southern California father of four pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of murder and kidnapping after his wife's body was discovered in the trunk of the family car and an Amber Alert was issued for his children, prosecutors said.

    Daniel Diego Perez, 43, is due back in court Jan. 12, when a date will be sent for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for him to stand trial.

    Perez's bail has been set at $1.4 million, and a judge issued a protective order requiring him to stay away from his children.

    He is charged with one count of murder and four counts of kidnapping.

    Dad Faces Murder, Kidnap Charges

    [LA] Dad Faces Murder, Kidnap Charges
    A man allegedly killed his wife and kidnapped his four sons before being arrested after a pursuit and Amber Alert was issued in a dramatic arrest caught on TV news. John Cádiz Klemack reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Monday, Dec. 15, 2014.
    (Published Monday, Dec. 15, 2014)

    Perez allegedly killed his 39-year-old wife, Erica, on or about Dec. 5, prosecutors said.

    Her body was discovered Dec. 10 stuffed in the trunk of a car that was parked near the family’s Montebello home. Police issued a statewide Amber Alert and Perez was located in El Cajon on Thursday.

    He was arrested near Santee following a police pursuit and standoff. His four children, who were in the car, were recovered safely.

    If convicted, Perez faces up to life in state prison.

    "It was a matter of self-defense. She attacked him with a knife," said Eber Bayona, an attorney for Perez.

    Bayona would not say how Erica Perez died, but he did say his client tried to to protect himself when she died.

    Missing Mother Case Recognized as Homicide

    [LA] Missing Montebello Mother Case Recognized as Homicide
    After Erica Perez was found dead in the trunk of the car, law enforcement have changed their approach. John Cádiz Klemack reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014.
    (Published Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014)

    Relatives said both parents had extramarital affairs and had a tumultuous relationship.

    The NBC4 I-Team uncovered court records from 2011 that show a conviction for Erica Perez for allegedly stabbing her husband.

    Daniel Perez's family said he lived with a woman who had multiple boyfriends, but was incapable of killing her.

    A cause of death for Erica Perez has not been released.

    Perez remains in the Los Angeles County jail's hospital ward.

    His attorney said his client's on suicide watch.

    Family and Neighbors Describe Montebello Couple

    [LA] Family and Neighbors Describe Montebello Couple
    Neighbors told NBC4 that though the Perez family only moved into their home eight months ago, they saw some signs of domestic turbulence. Gordon Tokumatsu reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014.
    (Published Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014)

    Outside court, Billie Holguin, Perez's aunt, said he was a good man, a good husband, and a good father.

    "He loves his children," she said.

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