Ex-con found guilty of kidnapping baseball coach, player during carjacking

SAN DIEGO -- An ex-con who abducted a coach and a 16-year-old baseball player from a field in Kearny Mesa at gunpoint and made the coach drive him to Ramona was convicted Thursday of 13 felony charges, including kidnapping during a carjacking and kidnapping for extortion.

Ira Stringer, 48, faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced April 13.

Stringer was serving a 20-year sentence for robbery in Orange County when he was charged last year with abducting 27-year-old Dylan Graham and 16-year-old Jack Spencer from Hickman Field in Kearny Mesa, where baseball tryouts were underway on Dec. 23, 2015.

Deputy District Attorney James Koerber said Stringer approached the victims holding a loaded .357 Magnum and demanded that he be driven to Ramona. Stringer told Graham that he had been in a gunfight and needed to get "far away," Koerber said.

Once near Ramona, Graham jumped into the back seat and tried to wrest the gun away from Stringer, who fired off two rounds and the car veered off the road and crashed, according to the prosecutor.

Outside the car, the defendant lunged at Graham and the coach picked up the gun and fired several shots to get Stringer away from him, Koerber said.

Stringer acted like he was hurt and flagged down and carjacked a 79- year-old woman and stole her car, Koerber said.

Three days later, Stringer robbed a convenience store in San Diego and a few hours after that, robbed a store in Orange County with a shotgun.

Stringer is a three-striker with a 1995 conviction for home-invasion robbery in Spring Valley in which he held residents overnight and threatened to kill them, Koerber said. The defendant was sentenced to 14 years in prison in that case.