SAN DIEGO – The two men accused of trying to kidnap an Encinitas teenager plead not guilty Tuesday to attempted kidnapping charges.
Christopher White, 27, and Jeremiah Owens, 28, are accused of attempting to abduct a 15-year-old girl near Grandview Surf Beach in Encinitas last week.
Superior Court Judge David Danielsen denied both men of bail and have restraining orders against the victim.
According to the sheriff's department, the victim was waxing her surfboard in front of her family's home in the 1600 block of Neptune Avenue in Encinitas about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday when a slim man in board shorts grabbed her from behind, tackled her and pinned her to the ground.
As the assailant tried to drag the teen toward a nearby pickup truck occupied by a second man, she was able to break free and run into her home unharmed. The men then fled.
Deputies pulled White over and took him into custody two days later in Encinitas after a witness reported seeing a pickup truck matching the description of the one used by the suspects. Owens was arrested several hours later in Escondido.
In court, prosecutors said the 15-year-old may not have been the men's original target.
"These defendants were seen by numerous witnesses appearing suspicious, appearing to be leering towards various people that would pass by,” said Deputy District Attorney Dan Owens.
Following the attack, tips poured into the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department from the tight knit community of Leucadia. Neighbors who had noticed the men acting suspiciously not only provided descriptions, but cell phone video that led to the suspects’ arrests Friday.
"The family of a 13-year-old girl unrelated to the victim observed these two defendants in the area staring suspiciously at their daughter and were concerned enough to be able to actually film the two defendants in that location,” said Owens.
The victim's family and friends attended Tuesday's arraignment and said they are happy with the judge's decision to deny both suspects bail.
“The thought of what happened and what we heard about the other little girl, knowing that they’re not going to be out there cruising around is a massive sigh of relief,” said the victim's father.
They face nine years in prison if convicted of attempted kidnapping for rape, assault with intent to commit rape, contact with a minor with the intent of committing a sexual offense and false imprisonment.
The judge scheduled a readiness conference for Aug. 10 at the Vista Courthouse, and a preliminary hearing on Aug. 15.