Man accused of using machete in failed robbery pleads not guilty
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A young man who allegedly made a failed attempt to rob a Rancho Bernardo gas station near Stoneridge Country Club while wielding a large knife that resembled a machete pleaded not guilty Thursday to an attempted robbery charge.
Alexander Scott Brill, 19, was ordered held on $75,000 bail, despite an argument from defense attorney Peter Liss that the defendant needed to be released immediately so he could be treated for mental health issues.
"Mr. Brill had a severe mental health episode," Liss said outside court.
The attorney said the female clerk at the Shell station initially thought Brill was pulling a prank because he said he didn't know what he wanted, then pulled a 10-inch knife and demanded money. Brill then abandoned the robbery attempt, got in his car and drove home, where he was later arrested without incident, his attorney said.
"It seems pretty clear that this is really the outgrowth of a mental health issue," Liss told reporters.
Deputy District Attorney Kelly Rand told Judge David Szumowski that Brill, dressed in black and wearing a ski mask, entered the Shell station and demanded cash about 8:20 a.m. Tuesday.
When the worker refused to hand over any money, the bandit walked out, got into a nearby parked Honda CR-V and drove off, police said.
Witnesses followed the SUV for a time and reported the license plate number to police. Officers tracked down the Honda at its registered owner's home in the 12800 block of Avenida la Valencia in Poway, surrounded the SUV and contacted Brill by telephone.
A readiness conference was set for April 8 and a preliminary hearing for April 10.