Teen to stand trial in armed mugging spree

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SAN DIEGO  — An 18-year-old man accused, along with three teenage boys, of carrying out a spree of armed muggings throughout San Diego County was ordered Monday to stand trial on nine robbery counts.

Spring Valley resident Ernesto Lamarquez is accused in eight separate crimes involving nine alleged victims spanning the week of April 17-24. Four of the robberies occurred within the span of 90 minutes on April 24, the day the suspects were arrested, authorities said.

Lamarquez and the juveniles — ages 15, 16, and 17 — are accused of using replica firearms to intimidate and pistol-whip the victims, according to Deputy District Attorney James Koerber, who alleged that Lamarquez admitting purchasing the fake guns for the group.

The holdups occurred in City Heights, North Park, Spring Valley, La Mesa, and Chula Vista.

Following the final four robberies that took place between 12:45 and 2 a.m. April 24, all four suspects were arrested in a vehicle that officers located in an alley near the 2700 block of Fairmount Avenue, SDPD Lt. Steve Shebloski said.

Detective Ricardo Escalante, who testified at the adult defendant’s preliminary hearing, said two vehicles were tied to the robberies through victim descriptions, including the Chevrolet Malibu that Lamarquez and his co- defendants were arrested in. That car belonged to one of the juveniles, while a Dodge Ram truck belonged to Lamarquez, Escalante testified.

Investigators found numerous credit cards and other stolen property inside the vehicles, along with airsoft guns the group allegedly used during the spree.

The detective also testified that Lamarquez admitted to his involvement in the robberies during an interview.

Lamarquez, who’s being held in lieu of $1 million bail, will return to court July 29 for a Superior Court arraignment. His co-defendants, whose names are being withheld due to their age, are awaiting trial. Details on the status of their cases were not disclosed because they are being prosecuted in juvenile court.

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