Roofer suspected of strangling girlfriend pleads not guilty

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EL CAJON, Calif. — A roofer arrested on suspicion of killing his on-again, off-again girlfriend pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a murder charge.

Bail for David Charles Williams Jr., 44, was set at $5 million by Judge Daniel Goldstein. He was arrested Saturday.

Williams is suspected of strangling Christine Crosby, 35, of Lakeside, whose body was found July 29, 2011, in a shallow grave along Old Highway 80 in Boulevard, just east of Mile Marker 29.

Deputy District Attorney Chantal DeMauregne said witnesses saw the couple together on July 5 that year.

“She was never seen again after that,” DeMauregne said. “She was never heard from again. There is no evidence that her cell phone was used after that date.”

About a month before Crosby was killed, Williams was arrested on suspicion of roughing up Crosby, DeMauregne said.

The defendant subsequently was freed on bail, according to the prosecutor. She said the case was later dismissed because the woman disappeared.

DeMauregne said Williams and Crosby dated for about six months and were living together at the time of the woman’s death.

No motive for the slaying has been disclosed, though sheriff’s officials said the victim and suspect had an on-again, off-again relationship.

Williams faces 55 years to life in prison if convicted, DeMauregne said. In 1988, Williams was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, she said, adding that  that crime counted as a first strike.

The judge scheduled a readiness conference for Oct. 23 at the East County Courthouse.