EL CAJON, Calif. — A man arrested in Hawaii and brought to San Diego County to face a murder charge in the death of his wife, whose body was found near a desert campground 7 1/2 years ago, pleaded not guilty Monday and had his bail set at $5 million.
Anthony Edward Simoneau, 46, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted in the death of 41-year-old Fumiko Ogawa Simoneau.
Deputy District Attorney Kurt Mechals said he felt confident he could prove his case.
“Murder cases are, the vast majority of the time, as you all know, circumstantial cases, because we don’t have a victim who can just walk into court and explain what happened to him or her. That’s the situation here,” Mechals told reporters.
“It’s a circumstantial case but that’s not unusual, and the circumstantial evidence and all of the other evidence we have, we believe, proves that Mr. Simoneau is guilty, and that’s our intention,” he said.
Simoneau, who is due back in court Oct. 8 for a preliminary hearing- setting conference, was arrested Sept. 4 while reportedly working as a tour guide on Oahu.
His wife’s body was found Jan. 20, 2007, near the Bow Willow Campground in the Anza-Borrego Desert but was not identified until June 2011, based on DNA evidence. The cause of death, if known, has not been disclosed.
Mechals said the cold case investigation that led to the arrest of Simoneau took time. The prosecutor said many of the witnesses in the case live in Japan, making it more complicated.
“The goal is justice, of course, for Fumiko, and so we weren’t going to rush it,” Mechals said outside the courtroom. “We wanted to make sure that by the time we filed it, we knew we had a strong case.”
Mechals said the $5 million bail set by Judge Laura Halgren was appropriate given the fact that Simoneau no longer has ties to San Diego and is considered a flight risk.
Simoneau filed to divorce his wife in 2002 but withdrew the court papers when she got an inheritance from relatives in Japan, according to news reports. The couple lived in Point Loma on Upshur Street, but her family lost contact with her in early January 2007.
After her disappearance, which Simoneau did not report, he bought four Land Rovers, a boat, a motorcycle and a Hummer, according to broadcast reports. Simoneau reportedly left San Diego in late 2007.