Barbie costume-wearing suspect to stand trial

SAN DIEGO - A man who was wearing a pink Barbie costume when he allegedly attacked a woman in a women's restroom stall at a Big Lots store in Clairemont was ordered Monday to stand trial on four felony charges, including assault with intent to commit rape and false imprisonment by violence.

Gregory Phillip Schwartz, 41, faces more than seven years in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Mary-Ellen Barrett.

The victim, identified in court as Susan, testified that she went into the women's restroom in the Big Lots store on Clairemont Drive the afternoon of Feb. 28 and noticed a man's bare feet in the next stall.

The woman said she looked up and saw the man looking over the top of the stall and before she knew it, he was trying to crawl under her stall, prompting her to start screaming.

She said the man came in the stall, put his hand around the woman's neck and pushed her toward the wall.

"He was wearing jeans and a Barbie costume," she said, adding that the defendant told her to "shush"  and put his other hand over her mouth.

The woman testified that the defendant pointed toward his belt, and she decided at that point that she would rather fight than die at the hands of an attacker.

She said she was able to push the defendant away, run out of the restroom and notify store employees of the situation.

San Diego police Detective Carmelin Rivera testified that an employee saw a man run out of the women's restroom into the men's restroom, then run out of the men's restroom and out the front door.

Rivera said store surveillance video shows Schwartz going into the men's restroom at 2:42 p.m. and staying there for more than 90 minutes before going into the women's restroom, wearing the pink Barbie costume.

He's then seen running out of the women's restroom and returning to the men's restroom, then leaving after stopping to put on a jacket.

Rivera testified that a woman sitting in her car in a nearby parking lot said a man matching the description of the defendant had opened her car door earlier in the day and asked her if she wanted to smoke some methamphetamine.

Another police officer testified that a Big Lots store manager told him that the store was missing a pair of shoes and two pink Barbie costumes designed for 8-year-old girls.

Schwartz was arrested around 5:40 p.m. on March 2 in the area of Clairemont Mesa Boulevard and Diane Avenue.

Barrett said Schwartz was on probation for two misdemeanor conviction, including one for drugs.

Superior Court Judge Frederic Link ruled that enough evidence was presented during the defendant's preliminary hearing to proceed to trial on charges of assault with intent to commit rape, assault by means of force likely to cause great bodily injury, false imprisonment by violence and burglary.

Arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 25.

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