'Person of interest' in serial killer case pleads not guilty to murder

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Aaron Saucedo pleaded not guilty to murder at his arraignment Friday. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Aaron Saucedo pleaded not guilty to murder at his arraignment Friday. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Aaron Juan Saucedo (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff Office) Aaron Juan Saucedo (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff Office)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Composite sketch of the Serial Street Shooter, left, and the mugshot of Aaron Juan Saucedo. (Source: Phoenix Police Department/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Composite sketch of the Serial Street Shooter, left, and the mugshot of Aaron Juan Saucedo. (Source: Phoenix Police Department/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

He’s considered a “person of interest” in Serial Street Shooter case, but at this point, Aaron Juan Saucedo has been charged with one murder that’s not connected to that string of crimes and he pleaded not guilty to that charge Friday morning.

Thursday's hearing was short, barely longer than a minute.

[WATCH: Aaron Saucedo's arraignment]

Saucedo's not guilty plea to the charge of first-degree murder was entered into the record and his next court date set for June 18 before Commissioner Virgina Richter.

Police arrested Saucedo, 23, late last month in connection with a deadly shooting from 2015. Investigators said ballistics tests linked Saucedo’s 9 mm Hi-Point handgun to the murder of 61-year-old Raul Romero.

Detectives working the Serial Street Shooter case had included Saucedo’s picture in photo array they showed to surviving victims and witnesses. According to neighbors living near the 23-year-old's Phoenix home, Saucedo drove a black BMW 5-series sedan that closely matches the description of the vehicle linked to the crimes. Detectives have seized that vehicle as evidence.

“Investigations of this complexity are rare and take time to properly investigate,” Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said in a statement on Facebook. “We cannot allow the release of unconfirmed information to jeopardize justice for anyone. The investigation and discovery of evidence will guide our timeline as we move forward.”

[SPECIAL SECTION: Phoenix 'Serial Street Shooter' case]

Police believe the Serial Street Shooter is responsible for nine attacks from March to July of 2016. Seven people were killed and two were hurt in shootings that started in the Maryvale section of west Phoenix and spread to the city's central core and east side.

But that’s not the only high-profile case to which Saucedo might be connected.

[RELATED: 'Person of interest' identified in Phoenix Serial Street Shooter case; DPS denies link to freeway shooter case]

According to court documents, the 2015 murder of Romero involved the same type of handgun used in the Phoenix freeway shootings. Romero was shot and killed near Seventh Street and Bethany Home Road on Aug. 16, 2015 -- 11 days before the first freeway shooting incident.

Saucedo’s gun was one of eight weapons investigators confiscated from Valley pawn shops as part of the investigation. A gun belonging to Leslie Merritt Jr., the original suspect on whom the Department of Public Safety focused, was seized, as well. Merritt was arrested and charged but those charges have since been dropped.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Phoenix Freeway Shootings]

It's not clear if the Phoenix Police Department will do any ballistics comparisons between Saucedo's gun and the evidence in the freeway shootings.

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