Man accused in Pacific Beach stabbing pleads not guilty

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Police are asking people to avoid the area of Ocean Ave. and Grand Ave. in Pacific Beach due to a police investigation. Photo: San Diego Police Depatment/Twitter

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – An ex-con pleaded not guilty to a murder charge Tuesday for allegedly stabbing another man in an apparently random attack in a public restroom along the Pacific Beach boardwalk, 16 days after being released from prison.

Martin Alvarez, 33, is accused in the Aug. 16 slaying of 39-year-old Michael Wagley, who was found mortally wounded at about 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 16 in the lavatory at 700 Grand Avenue. The victim was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Witnesses reported seeing a man fleeing on a bicycle following the stabbing, San Diego Police Department Lt. Andra Brown said.

The lieutenant said Alvarez, who matched the suspect description, was detained in the area and later arrested on suspicion of murder.

The alleged motive for the slaying was unclear, but a prosecutor said the victim had no connection to his attacker.

Deputy District Attorney George Modlin called the stabbing a “random act of murder” in which Alvarez allegedly attacked the victim from behind, stabbing him in the neck. The prosecutor said Alvarez then threw Wagley to the ground and stabbed him several more times.

Modlin said that following his release from prison, Alvarez failed to report to Post Release Community Supervision and committed the murder 16 days later.

It was uncertain what crime Alvarez was serving time for, though the criminal complaint alleges he has prior San Diego County convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and robbery.

In addition to murder, Alvarez faces allegations of using a knife in the slaying.

He was being held without bail, but a bail review hearing was set for Friday.

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