OCEANSIDE — Four men accused of breaking into a Camp Pendleton Marine’s apartment and beating him at gunpoint were bound over for trial Feb. 19 by a San Diego Superior Court judge.
Lawrence Kenneth Champion, 26; Cornelous Donta Williams, 24; Edward Jamal Jones, 21; and Demetrius David Pleasure, 19, are charged with a single felony count each of robbery, residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, battery with serious bodily injury, false imprisonment with violence and grand theft.
Pleasure, who is still an active duty Marine, and the three other defendants, who are all former Marines, face more than 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges, Deputy District Attorney Chandelle Konstanzer said in a phone interview. Jones, who had his bail reduced to $75,000 and bonded out, faces additional prison time because of weapon use allegations, Konstanzer said. Champion and Pleasure remain in custody on $285,000 bail, while Williams is in custody in lieu of $60,000 bail, the prosecutor said.
All four defendants pleaded not guilty to the aforementioned charges. Their next scheduled court appearance is a March 5 readiness conference.
Following their pleas, Konstanzer said she argued to have Jones’ bail increased because he allegedly used a weapon during the assault; however, she said Judge Aaron Katz denied her request partly because Jones has had no issues with attending his hearings.
Prosecutors allege the four men, who were acquaintances of the victim — Justin Johnson — created a ruse to get into Johnson’s Oceanside apartment on Douglas Drive last December.
Initially, Johnson testified he only saw Champion and Williams outside his apartment. He said Champion announced that he’d come by to get his hat and CDs. However, Johnson said once his roommate opened the front door, two men wearing bandanas over their faces who he identified as Jones and Pleasure also came into the house. Moments before being attacked by Jones and Pleasure, Johnson said Jones chambered the gun and then pistol-whipped him.
The defendants’ attorneys questioned Johnson about their clients’ motive to rob and assault him over a baseball cap and some CDs, citing a police statement Johnson made following the incident in which he said one of the defendants said he was “messing with the wrong girl.” Though, Johnson said he knew no other reason for the attack except that Champion wanted his hat back. He added he didn’t have any of the defendants’ CDs.
“I didn’t owe anybody anything, but that hat, which was returned,” Johnson said.
During the incident, Johnson said Champion and Williams stole his money, jewelry, clothing, cell phone and laptop from his apartment, while Jones and Pleasure beat him. Additionally, he said the latter duo took the watch he was wearing and money from his pocket.
After the four men left the apartment, Johnson’s roommates, who were in the apartment during the incident, but were uninjured, called the police. Johnson received a broken jaw and broken ribs from the attack.