Jesus Tober. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
EL MIRAGE, AZ (CBS5/AP) -
An El Mirage man has pleaded not guilty in the strangulation death of a 24-year-old woman whose body was found in an alley on Jan. 31.
Court officials said Jesus Octoviano Tober, 32, made his plea Wednesday morning to a charge of first-degree murder.
The victim was identified as Patricia Cota. A passerby saw Cota's body in an alley east of the 13800 block of North Luna Street in El Mirage just before 8 a.m.
When officers arrived, they said they saw the body in the middle of the alley. She was barefoot and because her feet appeared to be relatively clean and free of debris, authorities believe her body had been dumped there.
Officers had little to go on, and the victim could not initially be identified.
Police began to walk the neighborhood to see if they could find any people who knew her. An officer found Tober standing in front of his home. The rear of his home faces the alley and is about three lots north of where the body was found, according to a probable cause statement.
Tober told officers he had been in a romantic relationship with the victim since April 2013, according to the court document.
On Saturday, an El Mirage detective interviewed a woman who was friends with the victim and lives across the street from Tober's home.
She said she saw Tober and the victim arguing, according to court paperwork. The witness said Tober physically assaulted the woman, the court document stated.
Police investigators turned the body over to the Maricopa County medical examiner for an autopsy.
El Mirage detectives learned the identity of the victim Saturday and the investigation led to the arrest of Tober in the 13800 block of North Luna Street in El Mirage.
Police said the investigation is continuing.
His next court date is scheduled for April 7.
Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.