A probationer accused of attempting to abduct two Lake Elsinore boys — one of whom he briefly held and ran away with — pleaded not guilty Friday to kidnapping to commit rape and other offenses.
Marcus Joseph DeWitt, 29, of Lake Elsinore, was arrested last week after he allegedly tried to snatch the children, neither of whom were identified, at Rosetta Canyon Sports Park in the 44400 block of Ardenwood Way.
Along with the kidnapping count, DeWitt is charged with attempted kidnapping to commit rape and forcible lewd acts on a minor.
He was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Eric Keen, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for May 17 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
The defendant is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.
According to sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Fredericks, DeWitt entered the park about 11:30 a.m. March 11 and headed into the playground.
Fredericks said the probationer walked over to a 3-year-old boy and grabbed him by the arm as the child romped inside a piece of playground equipment. Because of the configuration of the apparatus, DeWitt was unable to pull the boy out, and he gave up, immediately turning his attention to a 4-year-old boy nearby.
The defendant allegedly scooped up that child, manhandled him and tried to flee the area, but “the victim’s parents and other family members observed the abduction and were able to catch DeWitt and wrestle the child out of his grasp,” the sergeant said.
He said the 6-foot-4, 275-pound defendant attempted to continue running but was pulled down by a male relative of the boy.
Additional witnesses helped hold DeWitt until deputies were summoned, according to Fredericks.
No one was injured, including the children, he said.
Deputies took DeWitt into custody without a struggle.
According to court records, he has prior misdemeanor convictions for lewd and lascivious conduct, obstruction of justice, violating a court restraining order and vandalism.
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