Two suspects accused of attempting to kidnap a 15-year-old girl in Encinitas pleaded not guilty Tuesday, confirmed prosecutors.
Christopher White, 26, and Jeremiah Owens, 27, were revealed to be roommates in court. Owens is the one accused of directly attacking the girl, while White waited in a truck across the street.
They both face charges of kidnapping with the intent to commit rape and false imprisonment, as well as assault with the intent to commit rape, a lewd act against a child and conspiracy.
The victim was able to escape the suspects before a sexual assault was carried out, said Deputy District Attorney Dan Owens. But they assaulted her with the intention to commit a lewd act with a minor, which carries sexual assault charges.
Other witnesses had reported the suspects for leering at their 13-year-old daughter in a previous incident, according to the District Attorney.
Less than an hour before the attack took place, some other witnesses noticed the suspicious men sitting in their truck across from the driveway and recorded a video of them.
White and Owens each face nine years in prison, according to the District Attorney's office. White does not have a previous criminal record, while Owens has two prior convictions for a DUI and disturbing the peace.
Both of the defendants were denied bail and will remain in a Vista jail.
According to the District Attorney, there have been other reports of the two suspects leering at girls in the same neighborhood.
The victim's father, who does not wish to be identified, said that it's a "massive sigh of relief" that the victims were denied bail. He said his daughter is strong, very good at yoga and trained to do boxing.
He hopes this rings a bell in all the communities besides Encinitas to not let anything like this happen again.
Deputies arrested Owens and White on July 28, just two days after the alleged crime. One of them approached the girl who was waxing her surfboard in a driveway and pinned her to the ground, as his partner waited in a nearby truck.
The girl was able to fight off the man and escape into the house, locking the door behind her.
Neighbors distributed surveillance photos that appeared to match the suspects' truck. It was soon spotted in Cardiff, not far away from the attack. A spokesman for the deputies said community involvement helped lead to the speedy arrests.