Brett Charbonnel, 22, identified Skyler Jace Battreall, 20, who asked him for a ride on Oct. 14, 2018, while Charbonnel was parked on Cass Street near Garnet Avenue around 9 p.m.
“He needed to get somewhere. I thought I would help him out,” said Charbonnel, who added that Battreall claimed his motorcycle was stolen.
“He was super nice. I wasn’t suspicious,” said Charbonnel who said he drove Batrreall to McDonald’s on Garnet Avenue where the man initially said he wanted to go.
But Battreall said that wasn’t the right area and directed the Grossmont College student to go into a dark residential area in Pacific Beach.
Suddenly, Battreall pulled out a gun and said, “I’m from Washington and I’m wanted for murder,” said Charbonnel. “He pointed it right at me.”
Charbonnel told the nine-man, three-woman jury he slammed on the brakes, turned on the hazard lights and stopped to look at Battreall, who grabbed the wheel. Charbonnel said that move nearly caused him to strike a parked car.
“I gave him $33 so he would go away. This guy is intense,” said Charbonnel.
Charbonnel said he saw a couple walking down a sidewalk and he stopped to yell for help, saying, “Help, he has a gun!”
Battreall struck him twice in the face with the gun, and pushed Charbonnel out into the street, he said. The carjacker then drove away in Charbonnel’s 2007 Hyundai Elantra.
Police officer Christopher Johnson testified he was on patrol and he saw a car driving without headlights. Johnson said he followed the car onto Emerald Street and activated his overhead lights.
The carjacker struck a parked car, and Johnson discovered it with the driver’s seat open and someone running over a fence into someone’s back yard.
Deputy District Attorney James Koerber asked Charbonnel if he ever got his car back. “No, it was totaled, wrecked,” said the student.
Charbonnel said he went to his damaged car days later where it was towed and he found his missing tooth under the driver’s mat and the $33 he said he offered Battreall.
Photos of a bloodied Charbonnel in a hospital bed were shown to the jury. He said another tooth had to be removed because it was damaged.
Officer Matthew Zeunich testified he was overhead in a police ABLE helicopter as they searched the area with headlights looking for the carjacker.
Jurors stared intently at the screen showing ABLE’s cameras on 5-6 police officers in back yards and they are illuminated by moving white outlines showing their body heat. Zeunich said the helicopter’s equipment was able to show Battreall was hiding under a tarp in the back yard of 1376 Emerald St.
Officers arrested Battreall and they identified him in court. He had left a BB gun in the car, which the victim said he believed was a real gun.
A Greyhound bus employee testified that Battreall arrived in San Diego that same day after buying a ticket in Corsicana, Texas for $322 in cash on Oct. 12.
Battreall is charged with kidnapping during a carjacking, carjacking, and assault with a deadly weapon. His attorney, Chris Montoya, told jurors on Aug. 22 he would seek an acquittal on the kidnapping charge.
“Voluntary intoxication is an issue in this case,” said Montoya, adding that his client used cocaine on the day of the crime.
Battreall was convicted in Texas of auto theft, grand theft, and using fraudulent credit cards, court records say. Despite his story about being wanted for murder in Washington, there is no murder case pending against him.
Battreall remains in jail on $500,000 bail and has pleaded not guilty.