Video of the incident was shown at the preliminary hearing in which the robber angrily threw the victim’s car keys in frustration after he was unable to start a 2013 Chevrolet Volt hybrid car on Jan. 7.
The car’s owner, Juan Sandoval, testified a driver must step on the brake before pushing a button to start it and also have a key fob present in order to operate the vehicle.
Sandoval said his car never left the 7-Eleven store he parked at 6 a.m. on Midway Drive while getting coffee. The charge is attempted carjacking because the vehicle was never moved. Robbery is charged as the bandit took his car keys and phone.
A trial date of Jan. 7, 2020, was set for Robert John Bustillos, 40, and he pleaded not guilty at the end of the hearing conducted by San Diego Superior Court Judge Carolyn Caietti.
Deputy District Attorney James Koerber played videotape of the 7-Eleven surveillance cameras that showed Bustillos approaching the car owner as he was carrying coffee to his car.
There is no audio on the tape. Sandoval identified Bustillos as the robber and said he initially asked for spare change. He then pointed a red satchel at him that suggested a gun was in the satchel.
“I have a gun. Give me your keys,” said Bustillos, according to the car owner.
“I couldn’t risk it. I feared for my life,” said Sandoval, who said Bustillos sounded “desperate.”
Sandoval said the bandit also asked him for his cell phone and he handed over both items. Bustillos got into the car and Sandoval walked inside the 7-Eleven where an employee locked the door after Sandoval said he was just robbed.
The tape showed Bustillos in the car for a short time before getting out and throwing the car keys, which hit the store window, in frustration.
Sandoval said a truck driver found his phone in the middle of Midway Drive and gave it back to him. He also recovered his keys.
San Diego Police officer Evan Hughes testified he found Bustillos minutes later at the Smart & Final store at 2804 Midway Drive and arrested him.
A judge in May found Bustillos mentally incompetent for trial, and he was sent to a state mental hospital. Another judge and doctors determined he had regained his mental ability to understand court proceedings in August.
Court records show Bustillos was convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in Stockton, Ca. in 2004. He was also convicted of robbery in 2012 in Stockton. He remains in jail on $250,000 bail.