Armed robbery suspect in police chase faces judge

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SAN DIEGO -- An armed robbery suspect who fled when police tried to pull him over, leading officers on a chase from National City to Ramona before a spike strip derailed his car, pleaded not guilty Friday to robbery and evading charges.

Samuel Abuhai Biru, 23, was ordered held on $150,000 bail. He faces nine years and four months in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney James Koerber.

The prosecutor told Judge Lisa Rodriguez that Biru is accused of holding up a convenience store in San Diego on April 22, holding what appeared to be handgun and stealing more than $3,000 in cash.

Three days later, Biru -- again displaying what a clerk thought was a real gun -- allegedly robbed a convenience store in National City, stealing cash and 29 Lotto tickets, Koerber said. In both robberies, the weapon turned out to be a BB gun, the prosecutor said.

A couple hours later, went to another liquor store and redeemed some of the Lotto tickets, and witnesses were able to get a license plate number from Biru's car, he said.

This past Wednesday, police tried to pull Biru over, but he led officers on a pursuit through the city of San Diego and all the way to Ramona, with speeds on the freeway reaching 90 mph, Koerber said.

In Ramona, Biru ran over a spike strip laid down by sheriff's deputies and he pulled over and was taken into custody.

Biru -- who has no prior record -- will be back in court May 9 for a readiness conference and May 11 for a preliminary hearing.

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