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Hillsdale Mall Murder Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

Gregory Elarms, 58, delayed entering a plea at his first court appearance but pleaded not guilty to murder charges at his second court appearance today.

UPDATE—The man suspected of gunning down a well-known East Palo Alto community leader last summer pleaded not guilty to murder charges in San Mateo County Superior Court Tuesday afternoon.

Gregory Leon Elarms, 58, is charged with first-degree murder with the special circumstance of lying in wait, as well as with being a felon in possession of a gun, in connection with the June 9, 2010, fatal shooting of 54-year-old David Lewis outside Hillsdale Mall in San Mateo.

Tuesday was the second time Elarms has appeared in court since . He made  but didn't enter a plea.

After pleading not guilty, Elarms' attorney Jeffery Boyarsky proposed a February date to set the preliminary hearing. Judge Barbara Mallach agreed to schedule Elarms' preliminary hearing on Feb. 18 at 1:30 p.m.

Outside the courtroom, prosecutor Al Giannini said the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office hasn't yet decided whether Elarms will face the death penalty if convicted.

"We're a long way from making that decision," he said.

Giannini wouldn't speculate about a possible motive but said the defendant's mental condition may be questioned.

"It's fair to say that the defense is going to explore the defendant's mental condition at the time of the offense," Giannini said.

Boyarsky declined to comment after the afternoon's hearing.

Elarms remains in custody without bail.

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