VISTA (CNS) - A man who allegedly stabbed a transient at the culmination of an Escondido crime spree pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other charges Tuesday, with police saying new jail booking criteria established during the COVID-19 pandemic kept the suspect out of custody despite numerous arrests.
Timothy Alvarado, 22, of La Mesa, is accused of stabbing the victim in the neck on May 16, following several other arrests in the weeks leading up to the alleged attack.
Alvarado was arrested and released four times between May 2 and May 14 for allegedly stealing cars, including the same vehicle twice in four days from the same apartment complex, according to Escondido police.
Alvarado faces an attempted murder charge in the May 16 stabbing, and about a dozen additional felony counts related to the car thefts. He faces 11 years to life in prison if convicted of attempted murder and a maximum of eight years and eight months behind bars for the vehicle thefts, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Escondido police say new booking regulations instituted by the state to reduce jail populations prohibited them from booking Alvarado until he allegedly commited the stabbing, as his previous alleged crimes fell under the state court order lowering bail to $0 for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.
Alvarado's alleged May crime spree began about three weeks after he was released from jail after serving a burglary sentence.
-- On May 2, Alvarado was allegedly spotted driving a minivan stolen from an Escondido used car lot, then fled from officers in a pursuit. He was arrested on suspicion of auto theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, felony evading, driving on the wrong side of the road during a pursuit, and resisting arrest. Police say he was cited and released.
-- On May 4, Alvarado was arrested on suspicion of auto theft and possession of a stolen vehicle for allegedly stealing a Jaguar sedan from a local Motel 6. He was cited and released.
-- On May 10, Alvarado was arrested on suspicion of auto theft, possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of a controlled substance for allegedly stealing a Mitsubishi Lancer and possessing methamphetamine. Police say he was cited and released.
-- On May 14, Alvarado was arrested on suspicion of auto theft and possession of a stolen vehicle for allegedly stealing the same Mitsubishi Lancer, then cited and released. Both times the car was taken from the same Lincoln Avenue apartment complex, according to police.
Alvarado was also contacted by officers two other times during that span, for an alleged municipal code violation on May 12 and resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia on May 15. He was cited, but was not arrested either time, as neither offense would have had him booked even before the emergency bail schedules, police said.
Police said the May 16 stabbing happened just before 3 p.m. A nearby Escondido police supervisor heard someone yelling "stop!" near the Escondido Sprinter Station at 796 W. Valley Parkway and saw a man emerge from bushes near the station and run west from the scene toward Tulip street. The victim then came out of the bushes holding his neck, and "was bleeding profusely," police said.
Alvarado was detained by other officers on the bike path just west of Tulip Street.
The victim was taken to Palomar Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery.
Alvarado is being held without bail and is due back in court June 26 for a readiness conference.