Pooroushasb "Peter" Parineh of unincorporated Woodside has pleaded not guilty to charges of premeditated murder for financial gain in connection with the shooting death of his 56-year-old wife Parima Parineh, prosecutors said.
Deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office found Ms. Parineh dead of multiple gunshot wounds on April 13 in the bedroom of the couple's home.
Mr. Parineh, 64, is in county jail on a no-bail status. The plea was entered Thursday, Aug. 19.
If is convicted in this case, Parineh could be sentenced to death or to life in prison without the possibility of parole, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told The Almanac.
By actually entering a plea, Parineh appears to have finally arranged for his defense. He is retaining attorneys Paula Canny of Burlingame and Dek Ketchum of Redwood City, Wagstaffe said.
Parineh had appeared before a judge six times since his arrest on June 17, but each time asked the judge to continue his case as he worked on finding an attorney.
In death penalty cases, defense attorney fees usually run from $250,000 to $500,000, Wagstaffe said, noting that Parineh's difficulties in obtaining a lawyer centered on what it is going to cost him.
Ms. Parineh had a "large" life insurance policy and Mr. Parineh has several properties in foreclosure, no liquidity and "enormous debt," Wagstaffe said.
If Mr. Parineh had been declared indigent, the county would have paid for his legal expenses and appointed a defense attorney from a pool of lawyers registered with the San Mateo County bar association. But Parineh would have also had to list his assets and prove why he could not pay for his own defense.
Parineh's next court appearance is Oct. 21 at 1:30 p.m. for a preliminary hearing, prosecutors said.