Man accused in 1990 Point Loma slaying of sailor pleads not guilty to murder

Scales of justice

A man accused of killing a Navy sailor in Point Loma more than three decades ago pleaded not guilty Aug. 5 to a murder charge.

Brian Scott Koehl, 51, is charged in the 1990 slaying of Larry Joe Breen, 32, who prosecutors say was stabbed in the neck multiple times.

Koehl was arrested in July in Knoxville, Tenn., extradited to San Diego and booked into San Diego County Jail on Aug. 3. He is being held without bail and could face 26 years to life in state prison if convicted of first-degree murder and a knife allegation.

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

Koehl’s defense attorney, Alicia Freeze, noted that her client has no previous 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.

Breen’s body was found May 25, 1990, slumped against a fence in the home’s backyard. 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 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.

Investigators are using the method more and more to identify suspects in murder investigations that have long gone dormant.


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