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$4M bail set for woman accused of murder near Viejas Casino

EL CAJON, Calif. -- A woman suspected of fatally shooting a male acquaintance at the victim's Alpine-area home pleaded not guilty Friday to a murder charge.

Angela Marie Meza, 47, was ordered held on $4 million bail in connection with the death of 42-year-old Lorenzo Rodriguez, whose death initially was reported as a possible suicide.

Deputies dispatched to investigate the fatality in a back-country area just west of Viejas Casino shortly after 6:30 p.m. Tuesday found Rodriguez dead from a gunshot wound to his upper body, according to sheriff's officials.

Meza, one of several people at the victim's home on Viejas Grade Road when authorities arrived, was questioned by homicide detectives before being arrested on suspicion of killing Rodriguez. She was booked into county jail early the next morning.

Rodriguez was apparently renting a room in the home and Meza was a friend of his roommates, according to Desire Armendariz, Rodriguez's girlfriend of nearly 4 years.

“He’s a good person. He didn’t deserve this, he didn’t deserve it,” Armendariz said. “He was everything to me, he was my best friend. He’s gone."

She said her boyfriend was not in any trouble.

“He would have never thought this would happen. I would have never thought this would happen," Armendariz said. "It hurts, it hurts a lot."

Rodriguez leaves behind two sons, ages 7 and 16.

Investigators were still searching for a motive for the alleged slaying.

“There’s a lot of questions we hope will be answered by the investigation,” said Gill.

Meza does have a previous record involving assault with a deadly weapon.

She faces 65 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder and the use of a gun, said Deputy District Attorney Kristi Gill. The defendant will be back in court May 25 for a readiness conference and a preliminary hearing was set for June 2.