Fallbrook man pleads not guilty in strangulation of ex-girlfriend

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A 43-year-old Fallbrook man pleaded not guilty Wednesday in the strangulation of his ex-girlfriend as prosecutors released chilling new details about the woman’s death.

In a brief hearing at the Vista branch of San Diego County Superior Court, Michael David Robles pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping and first-degree murder in the death of Kathleen Cary Scharbarth, 34, of Carlsbad.

Prosecutors allege that Robles strangled Scharbarth in her home Nov. 23 minutes after she walked a new boyfriend to his car. Scharbarth’s 13-year-old daughter was asleep in the home.

Robles then cleaned up evidence of the struggle and took Scharbarth’s body to a remote canyon and buried it in a shallow grave, prosecutors said.

The next day, prosecutors said, Robles went to a friend’s home for Thanksgiving dinner. Scharbarth’s family reported her missing; her body was found Saturday, hours after Robles was arrested.Days before her death, Scharbarth had filed a domestic violence claim against Robles and received a restraining order against him.

Robles is being held without bail. The charges include murder by lying in wait, which could bring the death penalty. Robles allegedly plane tickets to Mexico, suggesting he planned to flee the area to avoid police, prosecutors said.