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Accused wheelchair thief ordered to stand trial

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SAN DIEGO -- A man accused of breaking into a 79-year-old Hillcrest resident's apartment and riding off in the victim's electric wheelchair must stand trial on robbery, elder abuse and other charges, a judge ruled Friday.

Stanley McQuery, 54, allegedly confronted William Ballard at the victim's Sixth Avenue apartment shortly after 3:30 a.m. on April 23, pushed him out of his wheelchair and also stole his phone, according to San Diego police.

Ballard -- who has one leg amputated above the knee -- testified that he heard noises as he got up to use the restroom and saw McQuery coming through a window.

“I said, What are you doing here?'' Ballard said. “He said, ‘I'm trying to get out.'''

Ballard testified that McQuery demanded money before trying to push a second wheelchair from outside into the apartment.

The defendant then allegedly pushed the victim out of his electric wheelchair and sped off, running over Ballard's knees and ankles.

“It really stressed me out,'' Ballard testified. “I've been afraid ever since.''

McQuery was in the wheelchair when officers caught up with him a few blocks away, according to police. As they approached, he jumped off and ran away but was halted by a police dog and taken into custody.

Judge Charles Rogers ruled that enough evidence was presented at Friday's preliminary hearing for McQuery to proceed to trial on felony charges of elder abuse, robbery, trying to dissuade a victim from reporting a crime and misdemeanor resisting arrest.

The defendant, who has three prior serious felony convictions, faces 40 years to life in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Scott Pirrello. A Superior Court arraignment is scheduled for June 18.

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