By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
Opening statements and testimonies were scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. today in the first of four trials for suspects in an alleged carjacking in March.
Potential jurors were called into the courtroom at 9 a.m. Monday, and after several hours of questioning, at about 3:30 p.m., 12 members were selected for the jury for Jose Gil of Garden City. Following that, District Judge Kim Schroeder adjourned court.
Gil, along with Juan D. Garza, 26, also of Garden City, and Bobby Stensland, 19, and Matthew Perez, 27, was allegedly involved in an incident that occurred around 8:20 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10, when officers responded to the 200 block of South Virginia in Liberal for a reported carjacking.
At their arraignments, all four suspects pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, theft, criminal restraint, battery, vehicle burglary, attempted felony theft, conspiracy to commit theft and criminal damage to property.
Trials have been set for the other three suspects, with Garza’s to start Dec. 20. Stensland is scheduled to have a pre-trial conference at 2 p.m. Friday. Perez’s trial has been set for Jan. 18, 2011, but the case could be heard as early as Nov. 18. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. Nov. 12 for Perez.
At arraignments for the suspects, District Judge Clint Peterson, the presiding arbitrator for those precedings, outlined the sentences the four could face for each charge, which are as follows (all sentences are dependent on the defendant’s criminal history):
o Aggravated kidnapping – 147 to 653 months in prison;
o Aggravated robbery – 55 to 247 months in prison;
o Conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery – 31 to 136 months in prison;
o Aggravated assault – 11 to 34 months in prison;
o Theft – 5 to 17 months in prison;
o Criminal restraint – maximum of 1 year in jail;
o Battery – maximum of 6 months in jail;
o Vehicle burglary – 5 to 17 months in prison;
o Attempted felony theft – 5 to 13 months in prison;
o Conspiracy to commit theft – 5 to 13 months in prison; and
o Criminal damage to property – 5 to 17 months in prison.
Stensland, Gil, Garza and Perez were arrested between Jan. 29 and March 1 by authorities in Ford and Finney counties, according to a statement from Liberal Police Capt. Pat McClurg.
Those arrests came following the alleged Jan. 10 incident in which a handicapped victim was forced out of his vehicle without his wheelchair and had to crawl for help.
The victim’s Blazer was later recovered in Finney County.