A Robbery

April 14, 2011

I was going through a few files the other day and came across a folder titled “Robbery.”  It contained a newspaper clipping, a letter from a public defender and a few subpoena notices.

I started working at Chief Auto Parts when I was a teenager and transferred to the local Los Angles location when I first move to LA.  I was the first female counter parts girl the LA location had in years.

The LA location was robbed in 1996, less than a year after I moved to LA. I was still a teenager.  I and my male co-worker were working that day. He was hanging out by the register and I was bored, straightening the product on the store shelves. An attractive guy walked in. I thought I’d flirt with him a bit as I straightened product.  I asked him if he needed help, chatted a bit (don’t recall what about) then went to hang out by my co-worker at the register.   The guy just kind of lingered around the shelves, smiling at me every once in a while. He did his smooth homeboy limp towards us, chilled by us, and chatted for a bit. I kind of like those bad boys too.

I told my co-worker I had to go to the bathroom. Smiled at the guy, he smiled back and went into the bathroom that was visible to clients. I lingered in the bathroom for a bit, like girls usually do, and then walked out.  My co-worker looked at me frozen with fear and yelled “we were just robbed!” I said, “What by who?” He said, “That guy that was just here. He had a gun. Waited until you were in the bathroom. Pointed the gun at me and had me give him all the money from the register which was only about forty dollars.” Another lady was in the store and said “Ya, I saw him run out.”  Many thoughts went through my head like “I’m glad he waited and didn’t shoot me in the back.” And “Damn, he was cute!”  So, the cops showed up and took our statements and description of the guy.

Apparently, the guy had just robbed an AM/PM at gun point right before that incident. He actually shot the worker.  The cops then chased him after the Chief Auto Parts robbery. There was shootout between him and the cops.  We got subpoenaed to identify him and speak on the witness stand. I really didn’t want to do it, but had to for the company. I was just happy he waited until I was in the bathroom to rob my co-worker.

A detective picked me up one day and I had to go through pictures of inmates to identify him.  Then I was picked up another time and brought downtown. I got to walk through a few jail cell locations, to a glass/mirror room to look at a line up of similar looking guys and pointed out the guy from that day.  I probably wouldn’t have paid so much attention to him if he wasn’t attractive. I identified him both times. My co-worker also identified him.

Court day finally came. Again, a detective picked me up and brought me to the downtown courthouse.  My co-worker went into the court room testify first. I waited outside. A cute, young girl around 7-8 years old came up to me because she was bored and started talking to me.  She wanted to play pat-a-cake. So, I did. She said, “You have to go in there?” I said, “Yes.” She said, “My daddy’s in there.” I said, “Ya, what his name.” She told me the name and sure enough her father was the guy I would be putting in jail.  I said, “Oh…” I just looked at her with soft eyes, gently smiled, then looked up at her family and just kind of nodded at them.  They were all sad and it broke my heart.

It was my turn to go into the court room.  I went on the stand and was sworn in.  It was all kind of a blur. I was nervous as all hell and all I could think about was the fact I was putting this guy in jail. I could have lied but that would not be good.  The defender kept trying to trip me up, but I answered the questions to the best of my knowledge. Then the question came, “Can you identify the man in this courtroom today?” I of course had to.  I looked at the defendant. He glared at me, shook his head, mouthing something, tying to intimidate me and I pointed him out.  Then it was done. I went home and back to work the next day.  The detective followed up with me. It turned out it was his third strike and he was to go to jail for life. His previous charges were robbery and I think drugs. Knowing that it was his third strike made me feel even worse because all I could think about was his daughter.

A few weeks later a women came in and said, “You’re still here.” I said, “Yes.” She told me she was one of the jurors and start talking about it in front of the other clients. She said she would have left the company right after. I told her I was fine. My co-worker, however, did leave soon after. I didn’t leave Chief Auto Parts for another year or two and that was for a better paying job.

Years later, in 2002, my mother received a letter from a Public Defender for the defendant.  It stated “This case is being reviewed by lawyers in our office for possible police misconduct.” Then I was hunted down at my then current work place. I received a phone call.  Apparently, all the third strike cases were being reviewed.  I was asked similar questions as before; if I was sure the defendant was the guy and if I could go back to the station to identify him again. I told the Public Defender that I was certain at the time that he was the guy and I refused to go back in to identify him because too much time had passed. Then the PD said, “Well you said he walked with a limp and he doesn’t have a limp.” I said, “Well, he had a homeboy like limp. Not a real one, just the cool one.” He said, “Oh, well you’re co-worker didn’t want anything to do with the case and wouldn’t talk to us at all.” I said, “Look, it’s been 5 or 6 years.  He has a daughter.  I hope by now he would have learned from this experience and will straighten up. I don’t think he should do life, so if you want to let him out then let him out. I think it’s been long enough. He has a daughter and should be with her. Just as long as he doesn’t come after me.”  The PD said, “Oh okay.” And that was that.  I still wonder what happened to him and his daughter.  I just hope he did get a second chance and straightened up at least for his daughter.

Here’s the newspaper clipping:



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