A 21-year-old man pleaded not guilty Thursday to one count of murder involving the beating death of an elderly relative, who was discovered bleeding in a Glendale apartment last month.

James Sanchez, who family members say was not a blood relative of the deceased, appeared in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Pasadena for an arraignment with his wrists cuffed. He remains in custody in lieu of $1-million bail.

A family member found Ruben Sanchez, 84, on Nov. 18 in the elderly man's apartment. He had been severely beaten, according to authorities. He later died at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.

The alleged murder marked the first in Glendale since 2009.

Glendale police detectives and the U.S. Marshal's Task Force arrested James Sanchez the next day in El Cajon, where he resides.

The elder Sanchez lived alone in a unit on the first floor of an apartment building in the 1800 block of West Glenoaks Boulevard, though family members believe James Sanchez may have lived with him for a time, said Thomas Sanchez, Ruben Sanchez's eldest grandson who lives in Florida.

Thomas Sanchez said James Sanchez was the grandson of a man who Ruben Sanchez’s daughter married. That daughter and her family lived on the second floor of the apartment building where Ruben Sanchez lived, Thomas Sanchez said.

Ruben Sanchez, who moved to the United States from Cuba in 1980, is survived by seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, Thomas Sanchez said, adding that his wife of 53 years, Iris, passed away in 2010.

James Sanchez, who will turn 22 later this month, is next scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 13.

He could face a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison if convicted.

-- Emily Foxhall, emily.foxhall@latimes.com

Follow on Twitter: @emfoxhall.

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