'Open door bandits' convicted on all charges

Posted at 5:48 PM, Jun 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-05 02:20:15-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The two men who took part in a series of northern San Diego home invasions in which residents were robbed at gunpoint, tied up and sexually assaulted have been convicted of all charges.

Thomas James Smith and Aaron Rico III are both facing life in prison for the crimes. 

Deputy District Attorney Jalyn Wang told the jury that the men were part of a robbery crew dubbed the “open door bandits,” so named because in most of the 10 break-ins, the doors were unlocked.

"We're very pleased with the verdicts we got in court today. They were found guilty of all counts. I know the victims are very pleased, hopefully, they can all feel a sense of justice and faith in the court process."

Wang told the jury that Smith, 26 and Rico, 22, were two of the major players in the crew. A third major player, Stephan Ramon Gomez, pleaded guilty in the case.

RELATED: Trial begins for 'Open Door Bandits' accused in North County crime spree  

Four other defendants, Aaron Rico V, Victor Harvey, Robin Shawver and Jordan Wilson, also pleaded guilty.

"The defendants were going in, wearing masks, wearing hoods over their heads, holding victims up while they were asleep. They were tying them up using the victims own items shoe laces from their shoes, zip ties, toy handcuffs, clothing items --- one incident woman sexually assaulted."

The crime spree began on January 23, according to Wang. The Deputy DA told the jury about a laundry list of crimes. 

At the end of the series, we had one night where four different homes were burglarized, a 2 year old child's hands were tied up with electrical tape of course, there's a sexual assault, that came later on. A victim was punched in the head. A victim was kicked while he was hog tied. It did seem that they were acting a little more brazen and their conduct was escalating as time went on."

Smith’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Damian Lowe said “significant” mistakes were made in the investigation of the crime sprees.

The two men will be sentenced on August 17.