Kidnapping suspect Mandelaaxe Watson-Newsome pleads not guilty at hospital arraignment

SAN DIEGO - An 18-year-old man accused of trying to kidnap two teenage girls before he was struck by a car in National City on Monday night pleaded not guilty Wednesday to three felony counts.

During his arraignment at Scripps Mercy Hospital, Mandelaaxe Watson-Newsome was ordered by Judge Alvin Green to remain in custody in lieu of $1 million bail. The defendant was handcuffed to the bed during the brief hearing.

According to National City police, the defendant drove up to the 13- and 14-year-old girls at E. Plaza Boulevard and S. Harbison Avenue as they walked home from a nearby convenience store.

"The two girls were propositioned by Mr. Watson-Newsome, but they ignored him and continued to walk," Deputy District Attorney Harrison Kennedy told reporters outside the hospital. "He stopped his car and ran after them."

The older girl sent her younger cousin for help. The prosecutor alleged that the defendant struck the 14-year-old in the face and ground his pelvis against her buttocks until he was chased away.

"This is the type of crime that strikes at the very sense of public safety," Kennedy said.

Watson-Newsome accosted them "out of the blue," the prosecutor alleged.

He said the young man lay down in the street and was struck by a car, but got up and ran to a fast-food restaurant, where he was detained. Relatives kept the doors of the establishment shut until officers arrived, according to National City police.

Details on the defendant's medical condition were not released.

He faces 11 years in prison if convicted of attempted kidnapping with an intent to commit rape, assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury and forcible sexual assault.

Defense attorney Denis Lainez said his client is a recent high school graduate and lifelong resident of La Jolla whose 19th birthday is in 10 days.

The judge scheduled a readiness conference for Dec. 3 and a preliminary hearing for Dec. 6.

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