A man attempting to steal a Tesla parked in a residential driveway became enraged when he couldn’t make it work and violently assaulted and robbed the owner instead, a San Francisco court heard today at a preliminary hearing.
Antonio Jones, 56, had been loitering near the victim’s Hunters Point home for a week before the September 15 incident. As the owner opened the door of his car, Jones pushed past and got in to the driver’s seat but, because he was unfamiliar with the electric vehicle, he could not start the engine.
He demanded that the owner give him the key, although the car wasn’t operated by key, and then punched the victim – an Asian man in his late 50s – in the face before taking his cellphone and other property.
Police arrived rapidly on the scene whereupon Jones, refusing commands to stay, ran off into a park, only to be captured minutes later by other officers, resisting arrest in the process.
The suggestion was made in court that Jones may have formed the impression that the victim’s home and car were his – a misapprehension perhaps related to Jones’ recent arrests for drug possession.
This led to the defense enterprisingly arguing that as he wasn’t taking the victim’s car, but was rather taking a car that he believed to be his, he should therefore not to be held to answer the charges.
This cut little ice with Judge Michael Rhoads who did hold Jones to answer on felony charges of attempted carjacking and second degree robbery plus one misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.
The judge refused a defense proposal to release Jones from custody before trial with a GPS monitor and attendance at a “mentoring men’s movement” group.
“What’s the mechanism for preventing this from happening again?” Rhoads asked, noting the escalating nature of incidents involving Jones and “the need for adequate safeguards to protect the victim and members of the community.”
“I don’t believe that just a mentoring group is enough in this case,” the judge said. “I don’t believe electronic monitoring is enough.”
Jones was ordered to appear in Department 22 of San Francisco Superior Court before presiding judge Rochelle East on October 17 at 9:00am for instruction and arraignment.
Also in court today: A robbery parolee found with a shotgun and narcotics during a Civic Center traffic stop, where he ran from police and was arrested at gunpoint, will go to trial after a preliminary hearing concluded.
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