Man accused in series of brutal attacks across LA makes first court appearance; pleads not guilty

City News Service
Friday, July 28, 2023

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- A 21-year-old man was charged Thursday with attacking eight women in the East Los Angeles and downtown Los Angeles areas within less than a week.

Sergio Andrew Garcia pleaded not guilty to 13 counts, including three counts of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, two counts each of assault with intent to commit a felony and second-degree robbery and one count each of sexual penetration by use of force, sexual battery, battery, kidnapping for carjacking, elder or dependent adult abuse and grand theft of an automobile.

Superior Court Judge Kimberley Baker Guillemet ordered Garcia -- who had been the subject of a manhunt since early July until his arrest late Tuesday night in Tijuana, Mexico -- to remain jailed without bail while awaiting his next court appearance Aug. 17.

"The charges brought against this individual reflect a series of heinous acts perpetrated against innocent and defenseless women, some of whomwere elderly,'' District Attorney George Gascn said in a statement.

Garcia was suspected in a series of attacks that began around 8:35 a.m. July 10, when he allegedly followed a woman on foot from the area of Olympic Boulevard and Albany Street in the Pico-Union district, the Los Angeles Police Department reported.

Investigators allege that Garcia approached that woman from behind and sexually assaulted her, then physically assaulted her when she tried to escape, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Garcia allegedly followed a second woman as she was walking soon afterward the same day, and allegedly sexually and physically assaulted her, and allegedly physically assaulted another woman who was walking July 11, according to the District Attorney's Office.

He is also accused of attacks on five women on July 15, including one on a 67-year-old woman who was standing outside her home when Garcia allegedly snuck up behind her and physically assaulted her and another in which an 82-year-old woman standing at the back of her vehicle was physically assaulted and subsequently physically assaulted again, with her car keys and vehicle being taken, according to the District Attorney's Office.

The other alleged attacks on July 15 involved a woman who managed to force him to pull over after he got into a vehicle in which she was sitting and drove away with her inside and tried to punch her numerous times in the face, a woman whose belongings were allegedly taken after she fell to the ground after being approached from behind and struck in the face and a woman who was standing at the trunk of her vehicle when Garcia allegedly approached her from behind and sexually assaulted her before fleeing the scene, according to the District Attorney's Office.

One of the victims, Rosalina Martinez, told ABC7 she was cleaning her front yard when she was attacked.

"I didn't know what was going on,'' she said in Spanish. "I screamed for help when he was punching me.''

Neighbors came out and called 911 and the suspect fled. Martinez has lived in the community for decades and said nothing like this has happened to her or anyone she knows before.

"Honestly I am afraid of going out alone on the street,'' she said. "Very scared with fear that something will happen to me again.''

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna and LAPD Chief Michel Moore said Wednesday they believe there are additional victims who have yet to come forward.

"This person did not start this spree on the 10th of July,'' Moore said at a downtown news conference, adding that investigators "anticipate many more'' possible victims coming forward.

Luna added, "We believe there may be additional victims out there and for one reason or another they have maybe chosen not to call the police yet. ... We really, really would like to hear from you.''

The sheriff said anyone who believes they were victimized can call 800- 222-8477.

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