SAN DIEGO (CNS) — A man accused in a residential burglary spree that ended with him allegedly taking a woman hostage at gunpoint inside her Tierrasanta home pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that include burglary, kidnapping, and assault with a firearm.
Demetrius Trussell, 40, is accused of breaking into or attempting to break into seven homes from April 8 into April 9, culminating with him allegedly holding a 53-year-old woman against her will and sexually abusing her.
At Trussell's arraignment, Deputy District Attorney Meghan Buckner said that prior to the hostage situation, Trussell broke into several homes and took various items, sometimes while the homeowners were asleep. Other times, the prosecutor said residents confronted Trussell, including one instance where the defendant pushed a man and stole his car.
In all, prosecutors allege Trussell attempted to get inside two homes and burglarized five others, including the home of the eventual hostage and her 92-year-old father.
Officers already responding to the string of burglary calls in the area entered the victim's home on Viacha Drive after they heard the woman screaming, according to the prosecutor.
Per body camera footage released by the department, officers encountered the suspect holding a gun to the woman's head in a room upstairs. Buckner alleged the gun belonged to the homeowners and that Trussell had stolen it from them.
During the ensuing standoff, police said Trussell fired at least one round in the room, but no one was struck.
Through audio recordings released by police, Trussell can allegedly be overheard telling officers that the incident had escalated to a hostage situation, "cause I don't have no way out so I gotta take a hostage with me."
Trussell also threatens to shoot the woman in a kneecap if the officers don't back off, according to the audio recording.
Buckner alleged that Trussell also told police, "Back up or I will blow her brains out" and "This will not end peacefully."
After the gunshot is fired in the room, allegedly by Trussell, police say the hostage claimed the shot was an accidental discharge. The prosecutor also alleged that Trussell committed various sexual acts in the victim's presence throughout the standoff.
SDPD Officer Patrick Richards, an eight-year member of the department, fired multiple rounds from a nearby rooftop, though Trussell wasn't hit, Campbell said. The suspect then dropped to the floor, threw the gun away, and was taken into custody.
Another officer was also able to climb up onto a balcony and retrieve the homeowner's father prior to Trussell's arrest, police said.
Trussell remains in custody without bail.