A man accused of killing five of his infant children decades ago pleaded not guilty to the charges Tuesday.
Paul Allen Perez, 57, a convicted sex offender with a 20-year criminal history, was charged in the deaths of the children born between 1992 and 2001, authorities announced Monday, the same day he was to be released from a state prison in Delano on unrelated charges.
Perez was charged with five counts of premeditated murder with special circumstances of lying in wait, torture and multiple victims. He also faces charges of assault on a child under 8 and criminal enhancements for his prior convictions.
Perez did not talk at the hearing in Yolo County Court other than to enter his pleas.
“There’s so much unknown about this case right now,” Perez’s public defender, Tracie Olson, told the Davis Enterprise after the hearing, noting that her office has not yet received police reports.
District Attorney Jeff Reisig said Perez is eligible for the death penalty but he has not decided whether to pursue it.
The homicide investigation began in 2007 after a fisherman found the badly decomposed remains of a 3-month-old boy recently identified as Nikko Lee Perez in an irrigation sough near Woodland, California, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.
The charges involve Nikko, who was born in 1996 and four others: Kato Allen Perez, born in 1992, Mika Alena Perez, born in 1995, another Nikko Lee Perez, born in 1997, and Kato Krow Perez, born in 2001. Three of the bodies have not been recovered.
A preliminary hearing was set for Feb. 10.