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Teens Enter Pleas in Case of Body Found Burning Inside SUV

Jose Angel Martinez, of Compton, and Adrian Berumen, of Long Beach, are each charged with one count of murder and one count of felony arson, authorities said.

Two 18-year-olds pleaded not guilty today to the alleged murder of a Long Beach man, whose body was found inside a flaming SUV in Rancho Palos Verdes last April.

Jose Angel Martinez, of Compton, and Adrian Berumen, of Long Beach, are each charged with one count of murder and one count of felony arson in the death of Christopher Waters, 42.

Berumen was 17 at the time of the victim's death, but is being prosecuted as an adult. He is also facing a special allegation that he used a mini baseball bat as a deadly weapon in the fatal attack.

Waters was supposed to provide some T-shirts for Berumen's clothing line, according to testimony during a preliminary hearing.

The body was found in a flaming SUV at 30100 Miraleste Drive at 2:30 p.m. on April 23. The victim's feet were bound and a cord was wrapped around his neck, according to a sheriff's deputy.

Prosecutors said Waters was killed in Long Beach and his corpse was driven to Rancho Palos Verdes, where the SUV was set on fire.

Four days after Waters' remains were discovered, Berumen walked into the Long Beach Police Department headquarters and asked to talk to homicide detectives, authorities said.

Prosecutors amended the original criminal complaint to add an unrelated charge of attempted murder against Berumen, who also allegedly tried to kill a man named Carlos Olvera with a knife on Sept. 21, 2012.

Both Berumen and Martinez are jailed in lieu of bail. Berumen's bail is set at $2.06 million bail and Martinez' bail at $1.05 million.

They are due back in court on Jan. 31 for a pretrial hearing.

-- City News Service

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