Four former students at Balboa High School in San Francisco face up to life in prison for their alleged roles in a string of armed robberies in San Mateo County.
The suspects — Kary Lucius Amons, Vigil Erick Belen, Alan Ray Buggs and Anthony Daniel Defils — are all 19 years old. The group robbed three convenience markets at gunpoint in a two-month span stretching from October to December of 2007, according to prosecutors.
They were arrested after police pulled over their vehicle following a robbery in Daly City on Dec. 11.
The four men appeared in court Monday for a pretrial hearing. A number of dismissal motions by their lawyers were continued until the next court date, which is slated for Sept. 4.
Along with a series of armed-robbery charges, the men have also been charged with kidnapping for dragging a shop clerk from one end of his store to another — a technical charge because the employee was forced to move against his will, according to San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
Wagstaffe said that the defendants’ young ages are a factor in considering a lesser sentence, but the fact that they were armed means the county will pursue a lengthy prison sentence.
“We don’t have a great deal of sympathy for people who use loaded firearms,” he said.
Jeffrey Neubarth, the attorney for Belen, said he is seeking to dismiss the case because the four men were pulled over illegally by police who did not have proper motive to stop the vehicle.
“This was classic stereotyping,” said Neubarth, who will also make a motion on Sept. 4 to drop the kidnapping charges.
“There was no reason to pull the car over, they weren’t speeding, and they didn’t fit the description of the assailants,” he said.
Patricia Gray, the principal of Balboa High School, said she personally knew all of the defendants except for Belen.
“They were good kids, but sometimes kids make mistakes,” said Gray.