Man convicted in 'Red Beard bandit' armed robbery series

Stephen Parish faces more than 24 years in prison

SAN DIEGO - An armed man who held up five San Diego-area gas stations and convenience stores in four days was convicted Wednesday of robbery charges.

Stephen Parish, dubbed the "Red Beard" bandit by police, faces more than 24 years in prison. A sentencing date will be set Thursday after Judge Joan Weber rules on the validity of a 1995 robbery conviction.

In all of the robberies -- which occurred between March 10 and March 13 -- witnesses described the assailant as an older white man with a beard who displayed what appeared to be a gun and demanded cigarettes and cash, Deputy District Attorney James Koerber said.

During the last robbery at a Shell gas station on March 13, Parish made a "mistake" by putting his gun down on a counter, the prosecutor said.

A clerk grabbed the gun -- which turned out to be fake -- and chased the defendant into the parking lot, where a struggle ensued until Parish fled in a waiting car, leaving the gun, a sweatshirt and sunglasses behind, Koerber said.

Parish, 57, was identified after authorities compared his DNA to DNA found on the items left in the parking lot, the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney Charles Adair told the jury his client did not commit the robberies.

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