Tennessee man suspected of killing sailor in Point Loma in 1990 pleads not guilty

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

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 charged with the 1990 murder of 32-year-old Larry Joe Breen, who prosecutors say was stabbed in the neck multiple times.

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

Officials have not disclosed an alleged motive for the murder, or the relationship, if any, between Koehl and Breen.

No new details about the murder were released during Koehl’s arraignment on Friday afternoon, but his attorney, Alicia Freeze, noted that her client had no criminal record and was married and father of three in Tennessee.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office said Breen, a noncommissioned officer and cook stationed aboard USS Fox CG-33, was preparing to move into a house near the intersection of Nimitz Boulevard and St. Locust at the time of his death.

On May 25, 1990, Breen’s body was found slumped against a fence in the yard of the house, while his car was found abandoned more than a mile away, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Although the case cooled, a reexamination of the evidence led to the development of an “investigative lead”, which resulted in the arrest and murder charge against Koehl.

Prosecutors said the reinvestigation of the case was conducted with the help of the DA’s Cold Homicide and Research Genealogy Effort, which uses investigative genetic genealogy to try to identify suspects by matching DNA left behind. at crime scenes with that of relatives found in ancestry databases.

Perhaps most notably, the method has been used to identify the Golden State Killer, while locally investigators are increasingly using genetic genealogy to identify suspects in long-dormant murder investigations.

City News Service contributed to this article.