A man charged with fatally shooting East Palo Alto community leader David Lewis outside a San Mateo mall in June pleaded not guilty to murder in San Mateo County Superior Court Tuesday afternoon.
Gregory Elarms, 58, has been charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Lewis, who was gunned down near his car in the parking lot of the Hillsdale Shopping Center on June 9. The district attorney's office has additionally charged Elarms with illegal possession of a firearm and a special circumstance of lying in wait, which could make him eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
"We're a long way from making that decision," Deputy District Attorney Al Giannini told reporters outside the courtroom.
Giannini said the defense would likely bring into question the defendant's mental state at the time of the shooting. Defense attorney Jeffrey Boyarsky declined to comment.
Elarms was arrested on Dec. 20, two days after he contacted San Mateo police with a tip in the case, which investigators said made him a suspect, according to the district attorney's office.
Investigators believe Elarms followed Lewis to the shopping center from the San Mateo Medical Center, where Lewis was conducting HIV testing and counseling. Elarms is scheduled to reappear in court for a preliminary hearing on Feb. 18 at 1:30 p.m.