Not-guilty plea in Christmas Eve slaying of Santa Rosa man

  • Zak McKenna, kneeling and Max Braun of Santa Rosa, pay their respect to friend Nicholas Bloom, as they place flowers on the evidence markings, Thursday Dec. 26, 2013 where Bloom was stabbed to death Christmas Eve, behind the main library in Santa Rosa on E Street in an alley behind the building. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

A 26-year-old suspect pleaded not guilty Friday to murder in the fatal stabbing of a homeless man behind the downtown Santa Rosa library on Christmas Eve.

Vladimir Sotelo-Urena faces murder charges in the killing of Nicholas Bloom, 22, of Santa Rosa. Police said officers found Sotelo-Urena downtown with blood on his hands and clothes and carrying a bloody knife shortly after Bloom's body was discovered in an alley off of Fourth Street. Police said he admitted stabbing Bloom.

Police said Bloom was dead when they found his body with multiple stab wounds. An autopsy was still ongoing Friday, the Sonoma County Coroner's office said.

Kristine Burk, chief deputy public defender, asked Sotelo-Urena if he wanted to delay his plea until next week while she sorted out a potential conflict of interest.

"I don't see why that matters," Sotelo-Urena said. "Not guilty."

Sotelo-Urena, who also is identified as homeless, stood with his hands behind his back as he listened to the charges. He appeared in the courtroom for less than five minutes. Sonoma County Superior Judge Dana Beernink Simonds set the next hearing for 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Neither family nor friends of Sotelo-Urena were evident at Friday's hearing.

Bloom's aunt, stepfather and about a dozen friends watched the arraignment. Afterward, Chris Escalante said he wanted swift justice for his childhood friend.

"I miss him, I really do," said Escalante. "I'd like to see a lifetime of imprisonment."

Escalante said he grew up in the same Bennett Valley neighborhood as Bloom, and the two attended Montgomery High School together.

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