By NEAL PUTNAM
The man who trespassed into the elephant enclosure at the San Diego Zoo so he could take a photo with his young daughter failed to show up in court Thursday, July 21 for sentencing, so a judge issued a no bail warrant for his arrest.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Rachel Cano told the attorney for Jose Manuel Navarrete this was the third sentencing hearing for which he has failed to show up.
The attorney said Navarrete, 26, lives in Orange County, and had no transportation to get down to San Diego for sentencing and his driver’s license is not active.
Navarrete missed his first sentencing hearing because he had no transportation and the second time he was in Orange County Jail on unrelated charges. He was released on that case, but his bond was revoked by Cano on this case on July 21 for failure to appear.
The maximum sentence Navarrete faces is six years in prison, said Deputy District Attorney Eric Bodnar. But it is unlikely he will receive that because the girl was not injured in the March 19, 2021 incident.
Navarrete and his 2-year-old daughter went through two barriers and stood not far from the elephants so Navarrete could take a photo of himself and his daughter.
Patrons yelled at him to leave and one elephant began to charge at the pair. Navarrete then dropped his daughter and hurriedly picked her up as the elephant moved closer to him and he left the enclosure.
San Diego Police arrested him at the zoo after zoo officials called police. The story attracted media attention across the country. A charge of unlawful entry into the animal enclosure was dismissed.