The attorney for Keith Russell Luckett, 24, of Moreno Valley, argued unsuccessfully to dismiss the two counts of kidnapping during a carjacking, saying the purpose was to steal money from the women and not to take their rental car, which he left behind.
Defense attorney Dawnella Gilzean told San Diego Superior Court Judge Peter Deddeh that her client never tried to get the car keys and declared there was no carjacking in the May 4, 2014 incident.
The women, who live in Orange County and New York, were in La Jolla to attend a wedding when a man threatened them at gunpoint at 12:40 a.m. near the La Jolla Woman’s Club, at 7791 Draper St. They were ordered to drive to their banks’ ATMs and withdraw cash they gave the robber, who then fled.
San Diego police officer Carey Ochab testified the women said the gunman threatened to kill them unless they withdrew the cash.
Deputy District Attorney Jessica Coto said Luckett controlled the vehicle for 15 minutes. Deddeh said Luckett was in control of the car and that he deprived the women of the car. He ordered Luckett to stand trial on all counts.
The charges each carry a life term in prison. Luckett has pleaded not guilty and will get a trial date set on Feb. 19.
Luckett was linked to the crime through DNA evidence. The women said he wiped away mist from the car's rear window with his hands, and a criminalist testified the samples matched Luckett's DNA profile from a prior arrest.
Luckett’s attorney earlier said he suspected his client was not mentally competent to stand trial, but another judge ruled on Jan. 14 that he was. Luckett remains in jail on $1 million bail.