Larry Joe Breen
Murder victim Larry Joe Breen. Courtesy San Diego Police

A man accused of killing a Navy sailor in Point Loma more than three decades ago pleaded not guilty Friday to a murder charge.

Brian Scott Koehl, 51, is accused in the 1990 murder of 32-year-old Larry Joe Breen, whom prosecutors say was stabbed in the neck multiple times.

Koehl was arrested in Knoxville, Tennessee, last month, extradited to San Diego and booked into county jail on Wednesday. He remains held without bail and faces 26 years to life in state prison if convicted of first-degree murder and a knife allegation.

Officials have not disclosed a suspected motive for the killing, nor the relationship, if any, between Koehl and Breen.

No new details regarding the killing were disclosed at Koehl’s arraignment on Friday afternoon, but his defense attorney, Alicia Freeze, noted her client has no prior criminal record and is married with three children in Tennessee.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office says Breen, a petty officer and cook stationed aboard the USS Fox CG-33, was preparing to move into a home near the intersection of Nimitz Boulevard and Locust Street around the time of his death.

On May 25, 1990, Breen’s body was found slumped against a fence in the home’s backyard, while his car was found abandoned more than a mile away, according to the DA’s Office.

Though the case went cold, a re-examination of the evidence led to the development of an “investigative lead,” which prompted the arrest and murder charge against Koehl.

Prosecutors said the case’s re-examination was conducted with the assistance of the DA’s Cold Homicide and Research Genealogy Effort, which uses investigative genetic genealogy to try to identify suspects by matching DNA left at crime scenes with those of relatives found on ancestry databases.

Perhaps most notably, the method was used to identify the Golden State Killer, while locally, investigators are using genetic genealogy more and more to identify suspects in murder investigations that have long gone dormant.

City News Service contributed to this article.


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Ellen Bullock