Man accused in Lower Haight murder-arson case pleads not guilty 

A man accused of killing a Sacramento woman and then burning her body and car in San Francisco's Lower Haight neighborhood last week pleaded not guilty to murder and arson charges in court Wednesday, prosecutors said.

Almon Johnson, 29, entered the pleas in San Francisco Superior Court this morning, according to the district attorney's office. His next court date is Feb. 23.

Johnson allegedly killed 23-year-old Vanessa Herrera, the mother of his 7-month-old son, in Sacramento some time between Jan. 23 and Jan. 24, according to prosecutors.

He then allegedly drove her body to San Francisco and set the car ablaze in the 400 block of Rose Street, prosecutors said.

The two-door, gray Pontiac was found engulfed in flames, with Herrera's body inside, at about 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 24, according to police.

Johnson, who has ties to both San Francisco and Sacramento, was arrested that night in downtown San Francisco, police said.

Police have said the crime appears to have been domestic violence-related, but the motive is still being investigated.

Prosecutors have said Johnson is believed to have allegedly strangled Herrera, but an exact cause of death has not yet been determined by the medical examiner.

Bail is set at $10 million in the case.

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