Man accused of beating a man to death with a hammer pleads not guilty

SAN DIEGO -- A man suspected of using a hammer to kill another man in the Midway District plead not guilty to murder Thursday.

Authorities received a call around 6:15 p.m., for a body found lying in the lanes near the McDonald's in the 3800 block of Midway Drive, San Diego police lieutenant Mike Holden said. Bystanders attempted to perform first aid on the victim, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. Witnesses say they saw Jennings and the the man arguing near a bus stop.

“He produced basically an approximate 64 oz sledge hammer, a small sledge hammer. He basically truck the victim. The victim fell to the ground and then he got on top of the victim while he was lying motionless and began to stike him in the face with a sledge hammer which ultimately led to his death," said prosecutor Michael Reilly with the San Diego District Attorney’s Office.

Police say the victim had suffered major blunt force trauma to the face and head.

Officers located Jennings and arrested him following a brief struggle.

Police don't yet know what caused the argument, but Jennings allegedly kept hitting the victim in the head after he was down on the ground. Prosecutors say Jennings has a criminal record and is a threat to the public. The judge set bail at $2 million.

"We felt $2 million was appropriate given the severe nature of this offense.”

The identity of the victim is being withheld while police notify family members.