- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) - A judge has ruled the state can seek the death penalty in the case of a Jacksonville man charged with murder in the deaths of his girlfriend and five-month-old son.

Local media outlets report the judge ruled during a hearing Monday in the case of 26-year-old Sebastian Mendez.

Mendez is charged with murder in the slayings of death of his girlfriend, 29-year-old Shaung Liu, and his 5-month-old son, Archer Liu back in July.

Authorities say that the woman was found dead in her car three blocks from her home in Jacksonville. The infant was found dead in a suitcase in the attic. Authorities say the victims were strangled.

During the hearing, Mendez again pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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