“I’m a drug addict, dude,” said James Lee Graham III to San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert O’Neill.
Because Graham, 41, has 10 robbery convictions from 2008, Graham was sentenced to 25 years to life for the Dec. 14, 2017, robbery of Carolina Souza.
O’Neill added five years to the sentence consecutively because of his prior record for a total of 30 years to life in prison.
“Why don’t you give me the death penalty?” asked Graham.
Before the outbursts, O’Neill said Graham represented a “serious danger to society” by robbing a woman who was seven months pregnant and she was particularly vulnerable at the time.
“You are the poster child for the three strikes law,” said O’Neill, who added that Graham was found in violation of his parole terms 4-5 times.
Deputy District Attorney Lucille Yturralde asked for the 30-year term, saying Graham represents “exactly what the legislature intended” with the three strike law.
Yturralde said Souza “was terrified” by the robbery by Graham and girlfriend Stephanie Nicole Majsterski, 25, after they walked through an unlocked front door at 9:10 p.m. into her home in the 2100 block of Pacific Beach Drive.
The pair took two laptops, cell phone, wallet, and documents from Souza, but discarded most of the loot while fleeing the area. The laptops, cell phone, and wallet were recovered but the important documents were lost and Souza had to go through steps to get new ones, said the prosecutor.
The woman’s husband had left the door unlocked when he went to the apartment complex’s first floor to do laundry, according to testimony.
His attorney, Denis Lainez, asked the judge to impose a lesser sentence of 19 years and four months. Lainez said Graham had untreated bipolar disorder, a difficult childhood, and started to use alcohol and drugs at age 13.
“Give him a light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t believe a life sentence is merited,” said Lainez. “He’s remorseful on how his actions affected Ms. Souza.”
Lainez said Graham was unarmed when he walked in on Souza, but the woman testified she thought he was concealing a knife.
After deliberating for an hour and 45 minutes, a jury on March 22 convicted Graham of robbery, false imprisonment, burglary, and resisting arrest. He received concurrent sentences for the other charges.
Before his outburst, Graham told the judge he was “sorry for everything” and asked for “mercy in your decision” and “a light at the end of a tunnel.”
His parents and niece were in the courtroom audience. His attorney said police detectives did confirm to him that Graham helped them in an Ocean Beach robbery case about 15 years ago.
“There is a lot of good in Mr. Graham,” said Lainez.
Majsterski pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced Sept. 28 to five years in prison. Majsterski fled the scene by stealing a police vehicle and drove it into the water off Fiesta Island.
O’Neill gave Graham credit for serving 573 days in jail and fined him $7,903.