Three firefighters to stand trialAround the City Thursday, October 25th, 2012
Three San Diego firefighters will stand trial Nov. 21 on charges of robbery, dissuading a witness, and making a criminal threat to two brothers in an alcohol-laced incident in which both the victims and the firefighters yelled anti-gay comments to each other.
After an 8-day preliminary hearing last month, a judge threw out felony charges of assault, robbery and battery against the firefighters, saying the fighting was “mutual combat” in the Feb. 26 incident along Adams Avenue in Normal Heights.
“We basically have three good guys who were out drinking and something happened and got out of hand,” said San Diego Superior Court Judge Fred Link.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon told Link he was going to refile the dismissed charges, which prompted the judge to say this: “Your witnesses started these fights. These gentlemen were just protecting themselves.”
The brothers testified they were punched and beaten, with one getting a concussion. One brother bit firefighter Gregory Mark Econie, 26, on the arm and left a nasty cut. The other firefighters, Andrew Connor Brennen, 30 and Vadid Cisneros, 37, were reportedly punched.
Although Runyon said he would refile the dismissed charges, he only refiled the robbery charge Oct. 4. That charge involves the theft of Willie Martinez’s wallet.
Witnesses said the wallet fell on the ground and several firefighters picked up Martinez’s state ID and photo of his son. One firefighter warned him they knew where he lived, and Martinez interpreted that as a threat.
Link said the charge involving the wallet is grand theft from a person, not robbery.
The trio work at different fire stations and have pleaded not guilty. v
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