By NEAL PUTNAM | Downtown & Uptown News
A 19-year-old man faces up to 15 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to two robberies in North Park and seven hold-ups elsewhere.
Deputy District Attorney James Koerber said Ernesto Lamarquez faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison by San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert Trentacosta. His sentencing was originally scheduled for March 24, but was moved to April 6 when courts were originally slated to reopen. However, many unfinished cases are scheduled that day, so he may not be sentenced — even if the court reopens as planned at the time of this printing.
Lamarquez was reportedly accompanied by three other teenagers who have been charged in Juvenile Court, but those records are not public. The other three were aged 15, 16, and 17 at the time.
Another prosecutor is seeking to charge one teenage boy as an adult in a May 26 hearing.
Koerber said Lamarquez pleaded guilty to all charges and admitted the use of a firearm as a deadly weapon.
He was held to answer on the charges in a July 15, 2019, preliminary hearing. The victims were held up from April 17 to April 24, 2019 in North Park, City Heights, Chula Vista, and National City.
Jason Ries testified he was walking near Polk and Mississippi streets in North Park on April 23 at 12:26 a.m. when he felt “someone put something to my head” which “felt like a gun.”
“I was looking down at my phone at the time,” said Ries, who said he was stunned to discover he was being robbed by four people at gunpoint.
Ries said one man grabbed his Apple iPhone and initially asked for his password. Ries was so stunned, he couldn’t recall the password. The teens then “took a backpack off of me,” he said.
Ries couldn’t identify Lamarquez in court, but his I-phone was found in the vehicle the robbers used.
Another man in North Park was also robbed the next night.
Paul Valencia testified he was trying to sell an amp on a website. He said a young man showed up at his Chula Vista home at 9:45 p.m. and asked him to follow him to his vehicle where he had money.
Valencia testified he then saw two people with guns and someone “hit me over the head with the gun.” He was robbed and later had to get three staples in his head to close a wound.
Lamarquez, of Spring Valley, remains in jail on $1 million bail.
— Neal Putnam is a local court reporter.