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Man pleads not guilty in 2016 Pismo Beach homicide 

The trial of a 42-year-old man accused of killing his roommate then setting the body on fire is still months away from beginning.

Manuel Jesus Perez appeared in SLO County Superior Court March 29 to plead not guilty to charges of murder and arson in connection with the death of 37-year-old Joseph Charles Kienly IV on July 11, 2016.

Police believe that Kienly was killed during a physical altercation with Perez, who was living with him as a roommate in a residence in the 100 block of North 13th Street in Grover Beach.

Kienly’s body was discovered after both the police and the Five Cities Fire Authority responded to reports of a structure fire at the residence. They located a small fire inside, as well as Kienly’s body. Police said that Perez fled the scene before emergency crews arrived and was later arrested in San Luis Obispo.

At the arraignment, SLO County Superior Court Judge Jacquelyn Duffy tentatively scheduled Perez’s case for trial July 26.

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