Purse-Snatch Suspect Tells His Story

The district attorney does not file charges in the case

A man accused of stealing a dead pregnant woman's purse after a fatal car crash says he is relieved about recent developments in his case.

Police arrested Mark Struk last week for the theft of Yines Gonzalez's purse.

"I'm glad, very glad that, in my opinion, this is over for me," Struk said.

The Carlsbad man said that when he and his female passenger approached the crash, they spotted a wallet -- which he describes as a purse -- lying on the roadway.

"At that point, when the purse was seen in traffic, it looked like it would have been run over," Struk said. "That's when we had the reaction, 'Let's help out.' "

Investigators with the California Highway Patrol said two witnesses thought Struk and his passenger were stealing the wallet.

"I can't blame the people who called 911 who claimed we had stolen the purse," Struk said. "I probably would have done the same thing. They didn't see, because traffic was moving again, that I was holding it out the window."

At the time, CHP investigators didn't know Struk had dropped the wallet at the victim's vehicle when he got near the scene. Since the CHP had not located the wallet, they arrested Struk on a theft charge. A few days later, NBC 7/39 found a witness who verified Struk's story. Watch Video

Marine Cpl. Solomon Huss said he saw a man drop off the wallet and said he he told a CHP officer that information the morning of the crash. Read more from Huss in this article.

"The officer who took Mr. Huss' statement didn't recall that statement," CHP spokesman Sgt. Scott Payson said.

After reinterviewing Huss, investigators went back to the victim's SUV and found the missing wallet.

"I'm not going to point blame, I'm not going to say I'm angry at the CHP -- I'm angry at the situation," Struk said.

Investigators are no longer calling Struk a suspect. Instead, he and his passenger are being called persons of interest. Payson said $500 is still missing from the victim's wallet and they don't know who took it. Struk maintains that neither he nor his passenger took the cash.

"As I recall, we had finished turning over the SUV, and I heard him yell out, 'I saw this purse!'" said Cpl Solomon Huss. "He dropped it on the freeway about 20 feet from where we were." Read more from Huss in this article.

"Because of this new information we are going to re-interview Solomon Huss," Sgt. Scott Payson said Thursday.  "If we got it wrong, we want to make sure we got it right."

CHP investigators said the wallet had $500 cash, not $400 and even though Struk and his female passenger are not suspects, they are both still considered persons of interest.

"Statements by the public -- witnesses that were there immediately after the scene and observed and were able to describe exactly what happened --  they gave very accurate descriptions of the parties that were involved and we went from there," said CHP officer Mark Latulippe.

But the District Attorney's office said its attorneys do not have any proof that Struk did anything criminal. "He's off the hook," said Levikow.

Carlsbad resident John Sudac, Jr., 27, appeared in a Vista courtroom Monday to face charges of felony manslaughter, felony hit-and-run and possession of marijuana. He surrendered to authorities after he was named as a suspect in the accident. Read article here.

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