Gidding found guilty in home invasion near San Juan

Robert Gidding, 26, of Gilroy, and Joaquin McKenzie, 26, are

A jury trial this week found Robert Gidding, a suspect in the May 2009 home invasion in the San Juan Bautista area, guilty of related charges.

Gidding, 29, of Gilroy, was found guilty on felony counts of robbery, burglary and assault with a firearm, along with three counts of false imprisonment by violence or menace, according to the San Benito County District Attorney’s Office. The jury also found him guilty of several related special allegations, while Gidding already has served a prison term on convictions for arson, and theft or unauthorized use of a vehicle.

The jury trial proceedings started Jan. 9 and lasted six days. Gidding is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 23.

Prosecutors alleged that Gidding and Joaquin McKenzie, both 26 at the time, proceeded to bind and rob two residents at a home off Highway 156 near San Juan Bautista.

According to the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office, deputies arrested McKenzie a few miles away on the 2200 block of San Juan-Hollister Road but were forced to open fire, about 15 rounds, into a vehicle driving toward two deputies. The driver, Gidding, escaped for about five hours before a Hollister police officer arrested him while responding to a suspicious person call.

Last year, McKenzie pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree burglary and conspiracy to intimidate a witness. He received a five-year probation term in addition to getting time served for his 320 days in jail.

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