A convicted felon accused of robbing multiple stores in Riverside County must stand trial on a dozen felony charges, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Freedom William Foster, 50, of Sage was arrested a year ago following a sheriff’s investigation into a robbery spree involving a lone bandit who held up establishments in Menifee, San Jacinto and Temecula.
At the end of a preliminary hearing at the Banning Justice Center, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mark Johnson found there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial on nine counts of armed robbery and one count each of attempted carjacking, felony evading and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The judge scheduled a post-preliminary hearing arraignment for Dec. 16. Foster is being held in lieu of $2 million bail at the nearby Smith Correctional Facility.
According to Riverside County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ken Reichle, on the evening of Dec. 9, 2018, Foster held up an outlet in the 100 block of Sanderson Avenue in San Jacinto. After forcing a clerk to hand over an undisclosed amount of cash, the defendant fled in a Jeep Cherokee, for which deputies immediately began searching after receiving the 911 call, Reichle alleged.
He said patrolmen spotted the SUV within a couple of minutes and gave chase.
Foster allegedly led deputies on a pursuit until the Jeep ran out of gas moments later in the area of First Street and Pico Avenue.
According to Reichle, the defendant ran away from the stalled vehicle and managed to elude deputies swarming the location. However, three days later, based on evidence gleaned from the SUV, investigators tracked Foster down to a residence in the 39000 block of Dusty Trail.
Reichle said that Foster spotted uniformed and plain-clothed personnel approaching the property, at which point he allegedly ran into the open desert. But he was apprehended a short time later without a struggle.
Detectives developed leads pointing to the defendant as the alleged bandit responsible for robbing nine stores over a month-long span.
According to court records, Foster has a prior conviction for assault resulting in great bodily injury.
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