Ervin Velasquez pleaded "not guilty" Tuesday afternoon in court.
Police say Velasquez killed Limbo Srey at a home they shared in Southeast Fresno, then dumped the body.
Someone found her in a dumpster not far away.
Srey's children say she was an immigration services parolee who had just received permission to get a work permit.
A search of court records shows she has four drug-related felony convictions.
Velasquez has never before faced felony charges in Fresno county.