Former Marine pleads not guilty to murder of Madera County girl

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The former Marine accused of killing a Madera County girl made his first court appearance on Tuesday. Codi Slayton's arraignment lasted only a matter of minutes, but it was the first step in what could be a lengthy court process.

District Attorney Sally Moreno says, "Generally I tell people if we get things going really, really quickly, we can get it done in 18 months to two years. That's usually surprising to people, but by the time we get all of the evidence in and analyzed, that's what it takes to make sure we're doing justice in the appropriate fashion."

Moreno says additional charges may be filed, but at this point Slayton is facing one count of murder. The 19-year-old is accused of killing 16-year-old Josephine Jimenez.

She was a junior at Madera High School, who family members have described as outgoing and athletic with a heart of gold. Her body was found in a field on October 22, ten days after she disappeared.

Moreno says, "It's profoundly sad for the community, and I hope that we can bring justice."

Authorities say Slayton used social media to communicate with Jimenez and other young girls, but they have not released many other details about what led to his arrest.

The former Marine was taken into custody by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Oceanside on unrelated charges before being booked into the Madera County jail for murder last week.

Defense attorney Craig Collins says, "He's a young kid. He's only 19 years old, and he's talking to me like he's still in the military, calling me sir and that type of thing."

Collins entered a not guilty plea for Slayton. His bail is set at $5 million because the Madera County Sheriff's Office recommended an increase from the original $1 million after their ongoing investigation raised heightened concerns that he could be a flight risk and a danger to the community.

Slayton is scheduled to be back in court on Thursday to have that amount reviewed and to prepare for the hearing that will determine if there is enough evidence for a trial.

Collins says, "I haven't discussed the case in-depth with him enough to understand his mental state at the time or if he suffers from any mental illness, but it's up to me to get to the bottom of that either way."

Family members of both teens were at the arraignment, but declined to comment.
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