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Woman to stand trial for stealing car with kids inside

CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- A woman accused of stealing a car with two kids inside and trying to drive into Mexico will stand trial after a preliminary hearing Thursday.

Leslie Saenz, 26, is charged with kidnapping, child abduction and vehicle theft.

On April 9, a father took his son and daughter, ages 3 and 8, to a beauty supply store in Lincoln Park. The father went inside and left the kids in the car with the motor running and the doors unlocked. A woman jumped in the car and drove off.

“When she saw my dad was chasing the car, she drove faster and ran the red light," the daughter testified Thursday.

As they headed south on Interstate 5, the alert girl said she saw signs for Mexico and started banging on the window.

“To get people’s attention," the girl explained in court. "When there were no more cars, I got out my phone and called 911 on an emergency call. She [Saenz] said, ‘If you don’t give me that phone – I’ll crash into the freeway wall.’”

Police picked up the phone’s signal, spotted the car at the San Ysidro Port of Entry and arrested Saenz with the two kids unharmed.

Saenz is being held without bail.

A trial is scheduled to begin in September.

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