Two teenagers accused in a local crime spree and leading police on a chase appeared in court on Thursday.
Victor Ledesma, 18, and Jonah Ledesma (no relation), 17, faced a judge, witnesses and police officers for their preliminary hearing.
Police say the defendants and two other minors were involved in armed robberies of several people throughout San Diego on Jan. 23.
NBC 7 was in court as alleged victims took the stand one by one. Here are some of their accounts of what happened:
This witness said that on Jan. 18, his green Honda Civic was stolen near Thorn Street and Highland Avenue. Five days later, his car was involved in a police chase and ended on a curb in Point Loma. It was very damaged with a smashed bumper and windows. He said he did not know who stole his car.
Witness 2 :
William Whelan said that on Jan. 22, at about 7:49 p.m., he was walking to his car, parked in Hillcrest. He recalls that two suspects approached him, surrounded him around his vehicle and demanded his wallet. He said defendant Victor Ledesma said: “I have a gun. Give me your wallet.” He then reports seeing a gun in Jonah Ledesma’s waistband. He said the two demanded his cell phone after taking his wallet. Whelan negotiated with the teens, saying he’ll put his phone in his trunk and won’t call police. He said the suspects left, taking only cash. Whelan did not report the incident to police until the next morning because, he says, his wife is paralyzed and she needed help getting to bed that evening.
Amalia Pena said that at about 2 a.m. Jan. 23, 2015, she was on a date, and the man walked her to her car parked near Neptune Place and Nautilus, when two teenagers robbed them of their wallets and phones. Pena reported seeing five suspects. She said the two robbed her and her date, another drove the getaway car and two others were checking locks of other parked cars nearby.
Brandon Potter said just before 1 a.m. on Jan. 23, he took his dog out for a walk in the 4600 block of Georgia Street in the University Heights area. He noticed a green Honda Civic driving around suspiciously. He said he was going very slow and stopped once in a while to make U-turns. When he started walking back home, he said the car pulled up to him and a man got out of the passenger seat. He said the suspect had a bandanna over his face and pointed a gun at him demanding “all he got.” Potter said he saw a handgun and handed over his iPhone. He reported seeing two other people in the car.
Defendant Victor Ledesma has a robbery conviction from 2012 and faces up to 28 years in prison if found guilty. The second defendant, Jonah Ledesma, faces up to 18 years in prison if convicted.
Defense attorneys declined interview with NBC 7 on Thursday. Family members were in court and also declined to speak.
Prosecutors say two other minors were involved in the crime spree. They are being prosecuted in juvenile court.