Tatum Goodwin case: Suspect in Laguna Beach murder pleads not guilty; accused of killing a woman with a fire extinguisher

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. (KABC) — A man charged with murder in connection with the death of a 27-year-old woman whose body was found in Laguna Beach pleaded not guilty Monday.

Dino Rojas-Moreno, 26, was charged Friday with murder with special circumstances during a kidnapping, with a sentence enhancement for personal use of a deadly weapon. The weapon was a fire extinguisher, the criminal complaint states. During his court appearance, he pleaded not guilty through an attorney.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Orange County Superior Court, Rojas-Moreno is accused of using a fire extinguisher as a weapon in the murder of Tatum Goodwin, which he allegedly did “in the commission and attempted commission of the crime of kidnapping.”

RELATED: Grim details emerge about killing of woman found in Laguna Beach alley

A man has been charged with murder in connection with the death of a 27-year-old woman whose body was found in a Laguna Beach alley, prosecutors said.

Rojas-Moreno remains in custody without bail.

“Mr. Rojas Moreno clearly denies the allegations made against him,” said a statement from Rojas-Moreno’s lawyer Chris Bou Saeed. “We look forward to fighting these allegations in court – not in the press, not on television and not online. We will do this based on facts admissible in court, not based on press releases, not based on leaks and not rumors and innuendo.

Goodwin, a San Clemente resident, was found dead Sunday morning by a construction worker in a secluded area behind the restaurant where she worked, authorities said. It remains unclear whether she and the suspect knew each other.

According to friends, the body of a 27-year-old woman was found in an alley near the Laguna Beach restaurant where she worked.

Family and friends of Goodwin spoke to Eyewitness News outside the courtroom on Monday. Although they did not want to be interviewed on camera, they said they did not know Rojas-Moreno and claimed Goodwin did not know him either.

“There’s not a soul there to look at,” Goodwin’s sister told ABC7.

“It was a random act of sinful hatred,” a family member added.

According to prosecutors, Rojas-Moreno, a bartender, approached the victim in a parking lot near the crime scene around 1 a.m. The two worked in the same area, but it was unclear whether the defendant was working that evening.

When her body was found, a sandbag was placed over her head, the prosecutor said.

Investigators suspect he dragged the victim to the back of the parking lot and into an alley behind a movie theater under construction, where he allegedly beat her to death with the fire extinguisher, prosecutors said.

Rojas-Moreno’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 30.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: LauraCoffey@worldtimetodays.com.

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