Accused Vandals Plead Not Guilty on 106 Counts

The suspects are accused of vandalizing more than 100 vehicles in Chula Vista last month

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    NBC 7 San Diego
    More than 100 cars were vandalized and one man was shot in Chula Vista late last month during a vandalism spree involving three young men.

    Two suspects accused of vandalizing more than 100 cars and shooting a witness with a BB gun in the South Bay appeared in court Wednesday.

    Hector Cordova, 19, and Arturo Martinez, 21, pleaded not guilty to 106 counts of felony vandalism and one count of assault with a deadly weapon.

    A third suspect, Alan Casanova, 19, was also arrested Wednesday morning for his role in the vandalism series, which Chula Vista police say happened between Sept. 26 and Sept. 29.

    During the spree, the suspects allegedly smashed out the windows of more than 100 vehicles on Chula Vista's west side and shot a victim with a BB gun on East Prospect Street. A van driven by the suspects was caught on surveillance tape during the crime spree.

    Casanova was booked into San Diego County Jail Wednesday on 89 counts of vandalism and one count of assault with a deadly weapon, police said. He also had an active warrant for violation of probation. He is scheduled to appear in court Friday.

    Meanwhile, Cordova and Martinez were arrested at around 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 27 at McCandliss Park on East J Street near a vehicle similar to the one captured in the aforementioned surveillance video.

    When detectives looked inside the suspect vehicle, they saw an air soft pistol, an air rifle and two canisters of BB's -- all possibly used to vandalize cars.

    According to the Chula Vista Police Department, during questioning, Cordova and Martinez confessed to the vandalism and assault. They were each booked into jail and would later identify Casanova as the third suspect involved in the vandalism series.

    The suspects also confessed to police that they were responsible for a vandalism incident that happened about a month ago in Chula Vista. Based on that information, they were each charged with 17 additional counts of vandalism.

    Originally, bail for Cordova and Martinez was set at more than $1 million apiece. During their arraignment Wednesday, their bail was lowered significantly to $150,000.

    Prosecutors said the lower bail was "appropriately set," given the charges.

    According to prosecutors, the suspects caused extensive damage to the vehicles that they vandalized. If convicted, each defendant could face a maximum of six years and eight months in prison.

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