SANTA MONICA—The suspect responsible for allegedly carjacking and kidnapping a man who was waiting for his wife outside of the UCLA Public Health building, pled not guilty in court on Wednesday, July 12, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Jason Levi Garza, 43, of Santa Monica was arraigned after being held to answer on June 28 for one count of kidnapping for carjacking, carjacking with a firearm, kidnapping, criminal threats and assault with a firearm.
According to a press release from the LADA’s Office, the felony information in case SA094170 also alleges Garza was convicted of second-degree robbery in 2011. On October 3, 2016, Garza allegedly kidnapped the victim at gunpoint, ordered him to drive to a second location and then forced the victim into the vehicle’s trunk, the prosecutor indicated. Testimony at the preliminary hearing revealed the defendant drove around for over 6 hours before releasing the hostage in a desolated area of Castaic.
The victim was able to get help after walking for about 90 minutes to a freeway call box, the prosecutor added. Garza was arrested on October 13, 2016. Deputy District Attorney Maria Ghobadi indicated the defendant is scheduled back for a pretrial hearing on August 10 in Department W81 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Airport Branch.
Garza faces a possible maximum sentence of life in state prison with the possibility of parole if convicted as charged. His bail was set at more than $2.1 million. The case is still under investigation by the University of California Police Department.