A judge has set bail at $1 million for a parolee who sparked a statewide Amber Alert on Tuesday after driving away from Valley Center with his 5-month-old son.
Kenneth Welch, 42, is accused of allegedly trying to run over his girlfriend and the mother of his son with his black Toyota pickup truck and then taking off with the infant.
Authorities issued an Amber Alert immediately after Welch took the baby, and he was captured and detained a short time later near Mar Vista Drive in Vista. Deputies found his truck parked in the area first, and then located Welch about a block away from the vehicle.
Deputies said the baby was also found safely, but officials did not release details about where, exactly, they located the child. The baby's mother sustained several injuries, but is expected to recover.
Deputies said Welch is a high-risk parolee who has served time in prison. Officials believed he was armed, dangerous and under the influence of methamphetamine when he took off with the infant on Tuesday.
On Thursday, Welch appeared in court for his arraignment. He faces multiple charges including violation of parole, attempted murder, child cruelty and evading police.
According to Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe, Welch and his girlfriend got into an argument that escalated into a physical fight in the car on Tuesday.
Watanabe said Welch began grabbing the victim’s hair, pushed her head down into the center console and then struck the victim in the face and head with a weighted sap -- a small, weighted device sometimes used by law enforcement.
The deputy DA said Welch allegedly threatened to kill the victim numerous times during the attack.
Eventually, the victim got out of the car and walked down the road. Watanabe said that’s when Welch drove his truck towards the victim, and she jumped out of the way. Welch then fled the scene.
Watanabe said the baby boy was later found safely by deputies at Welch’s sister’s house. Further details about how the infant got there were not released, as the investigation is pending.
The deputy DA said Welch had allegedly attacked his girlfriend on numerous occasions, but she had never reported the abuse to authorities before Tuesday.
Watanabe said Welch has three prior strikes on his criminal record dating back a number of years including robbery, intimidating a witness and assault with a deadly weapon.
Due to his criminal history, Watanabe said the parolee faces at least 25 years to life if convicted of these recent charges.
Welch entered a not guilty plea Thursday. He’s due back in court on Jun. 28 for a readiness hearing and then again on Jul. 2 for a preliminary hearing.