Redwood City teen pleads not guilty in fatal robbery

An 18-year-old Redwood City man charged with the alleged robbery of a San Mateo grocery store in July during which his accomplice was fatally shot by police officers pleaded not guilty during his arraignment today.

Johnny Javier Plaza’s attorney Peter Goldscheider entered Plaza’s plea before Superior Court Judge John Grandsaert.

Plaza was 17 at the time of the robbery and his subsequent arrest, but is being charged as an adult, according to San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. At the time of the robbery Plaza had a mere two weeks until his 18th birthday, which factored into the decision to charge him as an adult.

According to Wagstaffe, he has been charged with one count of robbery with the special allegation that an accomplice of his was armed with a handgun. Plaza and his uncle Adam Ramirez, a 43-year-old Hayward resident formerly from Redwood City, allegedly robbed the Fiesta Latina Market on Cary Avenue on July 20. Ramirez was armed with a gun and the pair allegedly took money from the cash register.

After Ramirez and Plaza robbed the market “they then split up, intending to meet elsewhere, several blocks away where they had their getaway vehicle,” according to Wagstaffe.

A suspect now believed to be Plaza was seen jumping fences in the 600 block of Patricia Avenue toward Bayshore Boulevard and was later detained, according to police.

The other, later identified as Ramirez, got into a white sport utility vehicle and after a brief chase, stopped in the parking lot of the Central County Mental Health Center on La Selva Street. He got out of the car with a handgun and exchanged gunfire with the officers and was fatally shot, police reported.

No officers were injured, but an uninvolved bystander was caught in the crossfire and sustained non-life threatening injuries, according to police.

If convicted, Plaza could face up to six years in state prison, according to Wagstaffe. He remains in custody on a $75,000 bail and will appear in court for his jury trial April 1.

— Bay City News

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