Three suspects who allegedly kidnapped, robbed and forced two
victims off a bridge Oct. 25 at Sprig Lake will appear in court
Thursday and may face life sentences if they don’t change their
Three suspects who allegedly kidnapped, robbed and forced two victims off a bridge Oct. 25 at Sprig Lake will appear in court Thursday and may face life sentences if they don’t change their earlier “not guilty” pleas.
The three Gilroy suspects pleaded not guilty to 10 felony charges, four of which carry a life sentence.
“We’ve seen cases like this before, but for South County it’s one of our most serious cases,” said Steve Lowney, Santa Clara County deputy district attorney. “They are facing multiple life counts.”
The identical charges for Catrina Cameron, 22, Tamaya Duenas, 23, and Nathaniel Garcia, 22, that carry a life sentence are: two counts of kidnapping to commit robbery and two counts of premeditated attempted murder.
According to court documents, Cameron and Duenas lured Jose Hernandez and Fernando Aguilar into Duenas’ apartment.
Cameron, Garcia, and Duenas were waiting with a gun and knives, according to police.
The Gilroy Police Department said they stole the victims’ wallets, cell phones and jewelry. They then kidnapped the victims in Hernandez’s truck and forced them to make cash withdrawals of $500 or $600 from ATM machines, Hernandez told police.
The victims were then bound, blindfolded and taken to Sprig Lake off Hecker Pass Road in unincorporated Gilroy where they were allegedly pushed off the 15-foot bridge, according to police. The victims’ nonfatal injuries included a broken nose, lacerations and significant bleeding and bruising, according to Sgt. Chad Gallacinao, who added the victims called the GPD at 5:32 a.m. Oct. 25.
Cameron, Duenas and Garcia pleaded not guilty Nov. 9 and agreed to proceed to Thursday’s felony advance resolution at 8:30 a.m. at the South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill, where the court will make a decision on whether to continue with a jury trial or settle, said Lowney.
Lowney said he will present his plea offer, along with the defense attorney, Thursday to the presiding judge.
“If they don’t plead guilty, then we have to put in evidence that there is probable cause,” Lowney said.
This will mean a Jan. 6 pretrial hearing, according to Lowney.
The remaining charges include two counts of robbery in an inhabited place, two counts of robbery in the second degree, one count of attempted robbery at or near an automated teller machine, one count of robbery at or near an automated teller machine and one count of carjacking.
Cameron presented a slightly different story in her statement to the GPD. In the police report, she said the night started with heavy drinking and ended with the two victims taped and blindfolded at Sprig Lake.
Cameron and Duenas met Hernandez while walking Oct. 23 on Monterey Street and attended a party at his home, according to the GPD police report.
In Cameron’s testimony, Hernandez brought Aguilar to Duenas’ apartment at about 3 a.m. Oct. 25 to drink Four Lokos – a potent combination of an energy drink and malt liquor.
At the apartment, Aguilar began to “stare” at her and then pulled out four condoms attached to each other, according to the report. Cameron – upset at the apparent sexual advance – took Aguilar by the wrist and pierced the condoms with a folding knife she carried in her purse, stated the report.
“If you think you’re going to take something from me, I’m going to take something from you,” Cameron recalled saying in the report.
She then asked for Hernandez’s truck keys and told him she was going to take the truck and his money because she was upset, according to the report.
Police said Cameron inspected the truck, noticed it was manual transmission and would not be able to drive it. Cameron saw Garcia “walking around” and asked him to drive, according to the report.
Garcia accompanied her into the house with a gun and told Aguilar and Hernandez to get in the truck, stated the report. After withdrawing money from the ATM machines, Cameron told police she was planning to drop them off far away and “make it hard for them to walk back into the city.”
Cameron told police she noticed electrical tape in the back seat and decided to wrap it around the victims’ eyes three times.
“Cameron said the tape was ‘loose’ enough to make sure they could breathe and get the tape off later. Cameron said she thought it was funny because they looked like ‘Zorro,’ ” and proceeded to tie their hands in front of them, according to the police report.
Cameron told police the victims were dropped off at a “turnout with a creek.” Police say the turnout was at Sprig Lake.
It was then Cameron said she told Hernandez and Aguilar to get out of the car. When Aguilar didn’t move, Cameron said she kicked him out. Cameron told police she stayed inside and doesn’t know what happened at the bridge.
Hernandez and Aguilar have a different story saying Cameron and Duenas pushed them off the bridge, according to the police report.
After dropping the truck off near Duenas’ apartment, Garcia, Duenas and Cameron checked into a room at 5 or 6 a.m. at the King’s Rest Motel at the 8100 block of Monterey Street, according to police.
Cameron said she dropped the truck keys into a dumpster in San Jose as soon as she found out police were involved.
Garcia was arrested at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 25, and booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail. Police said he was also carrying methamphetamine.
Duenas and Cameron were arrested at 5:40 p.m. Oct. 26 as they were exiting a FedEx Office Print & Ship Center on the 2100 block of Monterey Street, San Jose.
According to court records, Garcia has had two prior cases at Santa Clara County Superior Court since 2009. Catrina Cameron has had three prior cases since 2010, and Duenas has had four since 2007.