Corwin murder suspect pleads not guilty

Christopher Brandon Lee, 24, arraigned Tuesday afternoon

Christopher Lee pleads not guilty in Erin Corwin's murder

JOSHUA TREE, Calif. - Christopher Brandon Lee, 24, is charged with murdering his alleged lover, 19-year-old Erin Corwin. He made his first appearance in Joshua Tree Superior Court Tuesday afternoon since he was extradited back to California from his hometown in Anchorage, Alaska.

News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 were in the courtroom when Lee was arraigned at 1:30 p.m. Lee wore a dark blue jumpsuit. His beard was clean-shaved and his hair was clean-cut as he faced judge Rod Cortez and pleaded not guilty to murder charges.

Cortez said Lee faces charges in Erin's murder and a special circumstance allegation of "lying in wait," which means he will be held in jail without bail.

"We need to see exactly where that comes from," said Lee's attorney, David Kaloyanides. "We have very limited information about the investigation. I'm not sure what evidence would support that. I'm not sure what evidence supports the claim that Mr. Lee's done anything other than him knowing the victim."

Also in attendance was Erin's husband, Marine Corporal Jon Corwin, his father and a few of Jon and Erin's neighbors.

Corwin's body was found on Saturday, August 16 in the Rose of Peru Mine; one of more than 100 mine shafts investigators searched in effort to find the missing woman. She disappeared on June 28.

Lee is accused of killing the pregnant Marine wife and then dumping her body 140 feet down the mineshaft near the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base. A crime report said Lee also left behind tire marks and bullet casings, which led investigators to him.

Corwin and Lee were neighbors who lived on the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base. Police believe they were having an affair. 

Lee has been ordered back to court Sept. 16 and he's being held on no bail due to the special circumstance charge.

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