85-year sentence upheld for San Diego man’s violent robbery spree

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A federal appeals court panel Thursday upheld the conviction and 85-year prison sentence for a San Diego man who committed a series of armed robberies across the county.

Juan Marquis Holiday was convicted by a San Diego federal jury last year for robbing and attempting to rob 10 businesses in San Diego, Spring Valley and La Mesa across a four-month period in early 2017. Victims testified at trial that they were threatened with a gun during the robberies, with some victims alleging they were pistol whipped, kicked and beaten. He also fired a gun on five of those occasions, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

On appeal, Holiday sought a new trial, as he contended the court should have granted defense motions to exclude certain evidence at trial.

The evidence in question involves body camera footage from a San Diego police officer who Holiday alleged committed a warrantless search of his home. The footage was used at trial to show that Holiday owned shoes matching ones the suspect wore during one of the robberies, according to the opinion issued by a three-justice panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

While the panel agreed the evidence was improperly admitted, it held that the error was ultimately “harmless” due to the strength of other evidence showing that he committed the robbery, including DNA evidence.

The panel also rejected other contentions of improperly admitted evidence and arguments that the 85-year sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Holiday’s accomplice and co-defendant, Don Wayne Jones III, pleaded guilty in 2018 and was sentenced to around 30 years.

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