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Man Accused Of Brutal Murder Pleads Not Guilty

A 39-year-old Redding man was arraigned Monday afternoon for the murder of a Burney gas station cashier. David Wicks was killed December 21st while working at the Rocky Ledge Shell in Johnson Park by a man wearing a yellow rain suit with his face concealed. ¬†surveillance footage shows the killer scattering a flammable liquid around the store and on Wicks before lighting the place up on his way out the door. He rode away on a bicycle as Wicks burned to death. Several items found around Johnson Park were sent to the State Department of Justice Lab. The resulting DNA analysis pointed to Juan Manuel Venegas, a longtime former resident of Fall River Mills, Burney and Johnson Park. He was arrested January 19th on Telecaster Lane in West Redding. No motive has been identified. The district attorney’s office has charged Venegas with premeditated murder with special circumstances, including a torture allegation, which makes it a possible death penalty case. He entered a plea of not guilty Monday. The prosecution will need to show some evidence to hold Venegas when he returns to court for his preliminary hearing on February 21st.