Man accused in 2005 Fresno murder case pleads not guilty

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An arrest in a 10-year-old Fresno cold case is bringing a murder victim's family relief, but the suspect says he didn't do it. (KFSN)

An arrest in a 10-year-old Fresno cold case is bringing a murder victim's family relief, but the suspect says he didn't do it.

Family members of a murdered man had nothing but questions for prosecutor Gabriel Brickey on Friday. The suspect in the murder of Andrew Alvarez, 40, had just made his first court appearance.

"The family has been waiting a long time for this day and for this case to go forward," said Brickey.

Joseph Preston Shepherd, 45, told the judge in court he isn't guilty of murdering Alvarez 10 years ago. The recent development in the case comes after detectives found DNA underneath the victim's fingernails. They said that DNA is a perfect match with Shepherd's. But legal analyst Tony Capozzi said that's not enough to convict someone with first-degree murder.

"Is there something more than this DNA evidence under the fingernails? That in and of itself is not enough to convict anybody of anything. There's got to be something more to back up that evidence," said Capozzi.

Alvarez was found by neighbors days after he was stabbed in his apartment. Police say Shepherd was staying with Alvarez for a few days and attacked him when the victim made sexual advances. Shepherd has a long criminal history of violent convictions, including robbery and domestic violence. The prosecution is using Shepherd's rap sheet against him, but Capozzi said that's still not enough.

"As evidence to the jury to show that he has a proclivity to do something like this but that doesn't mean he committed the murder; it's only to show some kind of motive or intent," said Capozzi.

Brickey said if Shepherd is convicted of first-degree murder he could face 55 years to life in prison.

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