SAN DIEGO - A man accused of setting a transient on fire after dousing him with a flammable liquid outside an Oak Park store must stand trial on charges of attempted murder, aggravated mayhem and torture, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Jose Ricardo Garibay, 26, faces life in prison if convicted in the April 17 attack on 39-year-old Julio Edeza.
San Diego police Sgt. Nicholas Dedonato testified during a preliminary hearing that he spotted an older-model black Toyota truck that was linked to the crime the next morning and arrested Garibay, who was a passenger in the vehicle.
The officer said Garibay was acting nervous and sweating profusely during the traffic stop.
About 11:45 a.m. on April 17, witnesses saw Edeza conversing with another man next to a parked truck outside a Rite Aid store in the 1700 block of Euclid Avenue moments before being set ablaze. The assailant then got into the vehicle and fled.
The victim was admitted to UCSD Medical Center in critical condition with severe burns over 95 percent of his body.
Homicide Detective Daniel Burow said his team was called in to investigate the attack because Edeza was not expected to survive. The victim remains in the burn unit to this day, Burow testified.
Because of his condition, police have not been able to take a statement from Edeza, according to the detective.
A motive is still under investigation. Detectives do not believe that the victim and assailant knew each other.
Surveillance video shows Edeza running -- on fire -- into the Rite Aid and somebody inside the store spraying him with a fire extinguisher, putting out the flames.
Detective Jana Beard testified that Garibay's left arm was almost hairless and he had healing burns on his left arm when he was booked into jail.
A thermos connected to Garibay had ignitable liquid residue -- consistent with racing fuel -- on it, a criminalist testified.
Judge Eugenia Eyherabide ruled that enough evidence was presented for Garibay to proceed to trial. A Superior Court arraignment was scheduled for Nov. 1.