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Court Date Set For Man Accused Of Murdering La Jolla Investor

An April 19 trial date was set Monday for a man accused of strangling a La Jolla investor in his home and transferring $7.5 million from the victim's investment account to a new account opened in the dead man's name.

Kent Thomas Keigwin, 60, is charged with murder for financial gain in the death last June of 65-year-old John Watson, a retired biotech executive and member of a start-up investment group.

The defendant pleaded not guilty today at his Superior Court arraignment.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis will decide later whether Keigwin will face the death penalty or life in prison without parole if he's convicted.

After a three-day preliminary hearing last month, Judge Yvonne Campos ruled that enough evidence had been presented for Keigwin to stand trial on the murder charge, along with charges of grand theft, burglary, forgery and use of the personal identification of another.

According to court testimony, Keigwin was seen in the area of Watson's home on June 8, the day he was found dead.

Prosecutor Sharla Evert said the victim and the defendant -- who were acquaintances -- struggled inside Watson's home, and the victim was Tasered and strangled.

The next day, Keigwin transferred $7.5 million from one of Watson's investment accounts into a new account that he had opened in the victim's name, Evert alleged.

Keigwin also opened a safety deposit box and put his passport, Social Security card and transfer codes for bank accounts inside, according to the prosecutor.

Three days later, on June 11, Keigwin came back to Watson's residence with the victim's keys -- dressed all in black and carrying an empty backpack -- and was arrested by homicide detectives investigating Watson's death, Evert said.

Keigwin -- who's being held without bail -- will be back in court Feb. 28 for a readiness conference.

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