Matthew Scott Sullivan, 32, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Elizabeth Sullivan, 32, who was last seen alive Oct. 13, 2014.
The decomposed body was found Oct. 6, 2016, two years later, said District Attorney Summer Stephan in a press conference that followed the arraignment in San Diego Superior Court.
The body was found at the edge of the bay at 2600 Farragut Road, said Stephan, who noted that the body was found two years later on the same day that Sullivan was moving out of military housing in the Liberty Station area.
The residence had been searched earlier, she confirmed, but a knife was found hidden in the attic in the home where she and her husband lived with their two children.
Matthew Sullivan was arrested Jan. 31 in Delaware after a judge issued a warrant for his arrest. The two girls, age 5 and 7, are now in the custody of their mother’s father in Virginia.
“Ironically today, on Valentine’s Day, the killer is facing justice,” said Stephan at the press conference.
“It may take time but we will not forget victims,” said Stephan. “We know that many suffer in silence.
“Being in an intimate relationship should not hurt,” said Stephan. “Mrs. Sullivan was in the midst of leaving him, but did not have the chance.”
Murder is the “ultimate form of domestic violence,” said Stephan. “Domestic violence is often repeated violence over time. No one is immune to domestic violence.”
Judge Maureen Hallahan ordered Sullivan to next appear March 1 for a status conference to set future court dates. He remains in jail.
If convicted, he faces a sentence of 25 years to life for first-degree murder plus one year consecutively for using a knife in a homicide.
His retained attorney, Marcus DeBose, told reporters after the arraignment he has had no prior record or arrests.
DeBose said his client served five years honorably in the Navy. “He did serve his country. He spent his life defending freedom,” said DeBose.
DeBose declined comment on any particulars of the case, saying he has not received any reports yet from the prosecutor.
Also at the press conference was Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s nominee for police chief, David Nisleit, who is now assistant police chief. The City Council will confirm him for police chief in a meeting later this month.