Man pleads not guilty to murder in death of Ridgecrest woman

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A man accused of killing a woman whose body was found inside a burning house in Ridgecrest pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges including murder.

George Smith Jr., 57, was ordered held on $1 million bail. He’s next due in court July 14. He also faces charges of arson and recklessly evading an officer.

Smith was arraigned through remote video conference. He wore a face covering and stayed seated during the hearing.

Ridgecrest police allege Smith killed a woman — her name has not yet been released — then set a fire Tuesday morning at a house in the 500 block of Cottonwood Drive with her body inside. Firefighters discovered the body while searching the house for occupants.

Officers arrested Smith following a chase that ended in the 900 block of South China Lake Boulevard, police said.

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