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Father accused of driving car off Sunset Cliffs with daughters inside appears in court

Posted at 12:43 PM, Dec 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-02 21:38:54-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A man accused of intentionally driving a pickup truck off Sunset Cliffs and into the ocean with his twin toddler daughters inside appeared in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing.

The hearing for Robert Brians started with Brians announcing he wanted to represent himself. But, after having a conversation with his lawyer, he took that back.

RELATED: Father accused of driving truck off Sunset Cliffs with twin daughters pleads not guilty

Brians is accused of driving a truck off of Sunset Cliffs at 60 to 70 miles per hour with his two-year-old twin daughters riding along.

He has since then pled not guilty to 13 charges including attempted murder, kidnapping, child abuse, making criminal threats, and burglary.

Prosecutors say officers were on the lookout for a reported suicidal man who took off with his daughters and allegedly threatened to drive off of the Coronado Bridge.

Brians was found in Point Loma where the truck flew off of Sunset Cliffs. It was then when San Diego Police K-9 Officer Jonathan Weiss, quickly jumped into action, using a lengthy dog leash to rappel down the cliffside, a heroic moment, as he rescued the girls and Brians.

The girls' mother, grandmother and several officers testified on Thursday.

Mother Jenna Brians told the courtroom, "He was 'FaceTiming' me so that I could say goodbye to my daughters."

SDPD Detective Aletha Lennier testified that, "Approximately three minutes prior to driving off the cliff, a posting was made on his Facebook that stated, 'Tonight, I'm sending my babies to heaven. I'm going to torture the evil (expletive) who took my babies. I'll see you in hell, (expletive).'"

Officer Weiss also testified about his efforts to save the father and his daughters. "I was able to take the leash off and make my way down into the ocean and at that time I could see that the male was out of the truck and he was holding two little girls in his arms and he was floating between the truck and the cliffs edge in the water," he explained. He helped get the three back to shore. The girls have since recovered.

The judge determined that there is sufficient evidence for the case to move forward to trial.

A hearing is scheduled for December 16th.