A man’s conviction was upheld for kidnapping a 4-year-old girl from a Lancaster yard in an attack that was thwarted by her 13-year-old brother, who ran inside their house to get their mother.

In a ruling released late Thursday, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that there was insufficient evidence to support Earl Duane Williams’ conviction for kidnapping with intent to commit a lewd act involving a child and criminal threats.

The appellate court justices noted that the man spied on the girl from across the street for several minutes, waited to approach her until her mother went into the house, then kissed and hugged the girl and carried her 26 feet, as she struggled and screamed, to within about 100 feet of his recreational vehicle on Dec. 20, 2014.

Williams jerked away from the girl’s older brother as he tried to stop him, and the teen ran into the house to get his mother, who had gone inside to use the restroom, according to the appellate court panel’s 21-page ruling. The girl’s mother ran outside the house, chased Williams down and shouted at him to let her daughter go, the justices noted.

“Williams had no legitimate reason to approach the child, no history with her that would normalize a kiss or hug, and no innocuous reason to carry her away against her wishes,” the panel found. “The question is what he planned to do with her once he had her farther away from her home. On this issue Williams offers no innocent explanation, and we can conceive of none. A stranger does not approach a very young girl and kiss her, pick her up, and carry her struggling and screaming away for innocuous reasons.”

The family alerted a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who was passing by the home, and Williams threatened the family from the back of the patrol car that he was “coming back for you,” according to the appellate panel’s ruling.

Williams, now 64, was sentenced in December 2015 to 30 years to life in state prison, along with lifetime sex offender registration.

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