A carjacker thwarted when a woman threw hot coffee in his face was senteced to 14 years in prison on Feb. 1. The quick-thinking woman, Laura Mclay, describes the moments before she decided to fight off her attacker that April 2009 morning.
It's still hard for Laura Mclay to talk about that April morning in 2009 when a strange man approached her from behind as she opened her car door.
"He was very stealth about it, the gun was low, we were between cars," Mclay told NBCSanDiego.
It was about 8:30 a.m. and Mclay's hands were full after a quick stop at Albertson's in the 1500 block of East Valley Parkway in Escondido.
"I saw his reflection in the window and I was wondering why he was so close to me," Mclay said.
"He looked at me really seriously and said "Don't think I won't shoot you. I will shoot you right here in this parking lot."
The man ordered Mclay to get in the car, but her gut instinct told her not to get in.
"He's willing to shoot me there, what's going to happen when he gets me where he wants me," Mclay said.
Before Mclay could react, the man pushed her into the car through the driver's side and tried to shove her across the console into the passenger seat.
The carjacker began hitting her with the gun.
"And I started fighting, and I threw up my coffee at the same time," Mclay said. The hot coffee stunned the suspect for a moment.
"In that moment he let up just a little bit and it was now or never," she said.
Mclay pushed her way out of the car and ran away. The suspect chased her for a second, but then realized other people had noticed the commotion and ran back to Mclay's car and drove off.
The car was found abandoned near the San Diego Wild Animal Park later that day.
Mclay helped police create a composite sketch of the suspect.
But the case remained unsolved for nearly a year and Mclay lived in fear for her life during that time.
Then Escondido Police detectives got a tip that the carjacker was a criminal with a long record named Michael Nutter.
"This case was not a slam dunk,"said Lt. Craig Carter. Investigators didn't have any hard evidence linking Nutter to the carjacking and attempted kidnapping, The department's cold case unit worked tirelessly to make that connection.
"Through witnesses and their statements, we were able to determine the subject was in the area," Carter said.
On Tuesday, Nutter was sentenced to 14 years in state prison for the crimes he committed against Mclay.
He was already in prison serving eight years for a burglary conviction.
Mclay was at the sentencing and said she had already forgiven him for what he had done to her.
"I believe it's my faith in God, I just have compassion for him,"Mclay said.
"There's no point in being angry at him, I don't want live with any anger."
Lt. Carter said Mclay did everything right that morning by fighting off her attacker and running away. "They can have the car, but never get into the car with a carjacker."
He said there is a good chance Mclay may have been raped or murdered if she didn't fight back.
The Escondido Police Department cold case unit was created in 2007.
Team members have solved several big cases in the past few years including the city's oldest murder case which was connected to serial killer Michael Moon.
Recently, the team also conducted a fugitive investigation that solved a 21 year old murder case. The suspect had fled to Mexico, but was extradited back to San Diego to face prosecution.