Trial begins for ‘Chameleon Bandit’
by NEAL PUTNAM
Published - 01/26/18 - 01:08 PM | 1164 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The trial of the “Chameleon Bandit” began Jan 25 with the prosecutor showing jurors a video the defendant took of himself with bank cash scattered in the back seat of a car.

Darius Demon Lake, 29, is charged with holding up the Pacific Western Bank, at 1661 Rosecrans St., and five other banks in the “Chameleon Bandit” series, which was named because of his changing appearance.

Lake is charged with 12 counts of robbery and one attempted robbery in which multiple tellers and customers were held up in six incidents from Oct. 5 to Oct. 27, 2017.

Deputy District Attorney Lucille Yturralde showed a short video apparently made by Lake in which the robber shows a mixed group of cash scattered in the back seat of a car. Yturralde said Lake recorded it on his cell phone, and it was recovered by police.

Yturralde said Lake wore disguises that covered his tattoos, and “grits his teeth” during the hold-ups.

“He knew what he is going. It was a very planned event,” said Yturralde. “He would tell witnesses to get on the ground. He would curse at the victims.”

She said a gun was never seen, but he maneuvered his hands that implied he had a weapon.

Yturralde said police recovered Lake’s palm print on a bank counter and after his arrest was told that information. She said when police told him of the “Chameleon Bandit” nickname, Lake laughed and said “I love it.”

“I thought you were gonna call me the Clean Getaway Bandit,” Lake responded to police, according to the prosecutor.

Lake’s attorney, Jeremy Thornton, told the six woman, six man jury and San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert O’Neill that bank camera photos will show the actual robber, but it was not Lake in the photos.

“Mr. Lake is not that robber. They have charged the wrong person,” said Thornton. “It wasn’t my client.”

“Mr. Lake was a marked man,” said Thornton.

Lake, of El Cajon, has pleaded not guilty. He was arrested Oct. 29, and remains in jail on $500,000 bail.

Lake pleaded guilty to robbing three banks in 2012 and was sentenced to five years in federal prison, according to federal court records.
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