South Bay woman pleads not guilty to killing friend

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Lisa Garcia has launched a petition calling on local officials to clean up Chula Vista’s Otay Valley Regional Park. The park is the site where her daughter, 23-year-old Christina Garcia, was found shot to death in a field after being spotted by a passerby in August.

CHULA VISTA (CNS) – A woman accused in the shooting death of her friend whose body was discovered in a field in Chula Vista last summer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a murder charge and was ordered held on $3 million bail.

Vanesa Gastellu, 29, is accused of killing 23-year-old Christina Garcia. A person walking on a trail around 6:30 a.m. Aug. 5 found the victim’s body near the 3100 block of Main Street, according to Chula Vista police.

The criminal complaint charging Garcia with murder and several firearm- use allegations alleges the killing occurred on or about the date Garcia’s body was found.

Gastellu was arrested in October in connection with Garcia’s death, but was not initially charged with murder. County jail records show she was re- booked on the murder charge on Dec. 28.

Police have not disclosed a suspected motive for the slaying, nor how investigators identified Gastellu as a suspect.

Her next court date is a Feb. 3 readiness conference.

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