ESCONDIDO: Teen convicted of kidnapping, rape, robbery

BRANDON LOWREY | North County Times file photo
6 hours ago • By BRANDON LOWREY

Jurors convicted a 19-year-old man Wednesday of nine felonies, finding he robbed an Escondido family grocery shop at gunpoint, raped the lone clerk and stole her SUV, which he used in a botched attempt to rob two other women hours later.

Hugo Elmer Garcia, who was 18 and wanted for failing to comply with a deportation order at the time of the crimes, could spend the rest of his life in prison. He was scheduled to be sentenced June 12.

The 12-person panel took less than two hours Tuesday afternoon to find Garcia guilty of robbery, kidnapping to commit rape, unlawfully taking a vehicle, two counts each of rape, burglary and attempted robbery. Jurors also found he used a firearm to commit the crimes and found true several other enhancements that could dramatically increase his sentence.

The jury found him not guilty of burglarizing the home of his girlfriend's grandparents and stealing their gun, which he used in his crimes.

About 4 p.m. on May 18, 2011, Garcia rode a bicycle to a small store in a strip mall in the 1600 block of East Valley Parkway, and showed the gun to the clerk. He forced her to give him money from the register and her pocket, then took her into the store's bathroom.

He told her to undress and tie herself up using hair bands. She testified she begged him not to rape her.

He did anyway. He left DNA at the scene.

The clerk testified at an earlier hearing that Garcia told her to stay in the bathroom. He left and took the keys to her SUV.

She later fled to a busy nearby store and called for help.

At about 9:15 p.m., he tried to rob two women leaving a nearby check cashing store. The women fled and called police.

Garcia drove away in the SUV and parked behind a self-service laundry nearby, prosecutors said. When police arrived, he was smoking a cigarette.

After Vista Superior Court Judge Daniel Goldstein read the verdict and excused the jury Wednesday morning, jurors shuffled out of the courtroom in single file.

The last juror, a woman with long, gray hair, stopped near a younger woman sitting near the back of the courtroom ---- the store clerk who testified Garcia had raped her.

The juror smiled and clasped the woman's hand for a moment before leaving the courtroom in silence.

ESCONDIDO: Teen convicted of kidnapping, rape, robbery : Escondido