Accused killer collected string of citations in various vehicles - San Diego, California Talk Radio Station - 760 KFMB AM - 760kfmb

Accused killer collected string of citations in various vehicles

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SAN DIEGO, Cailf. (CBS 8) - The murder of Poway High School senior Chelsea King, allegedly at the hands of a known sexual predator, has sparked outrage in the community.

News 8 is continuing to investigate John Gardner's past run-ins with the law and the vehicles he was driving since his release from prison.

We are learning more about missed opportunities the case of accused killer John Gardner. A News 8 review of court records shows Gardner was cited for marijuana possession while still on parole.

A string of other citations did not seem to raise any red flags with law enforcement.

News 8 searched records in four different courthouses to compile eight citations filed against Gardner in a little over three years. Four of those citations were filed while Gardner was still on parole, including one for possession of marijuana.

News 8's review of the records shows a total of two citations for marijuana possession, one for driving with an open alcohol container, and several other traffic violations.

The records also show Gardner failed to appear in court, didn't pay court fines, and had his driver's license suspended for two months at the end of 2009.

Despite that history, when Riverside Sheriff's deputies pulled Gardner over at DUI checkpoint in Lake Elsinore in January 2010, they let him go with a traffic ticket for expired registration and no insurance.

Speaking in general terms, Riverside Sheriff's spokesperson Sgt. Joe Borja told News 8 that's not unusual. "You normally would not book (a driver) for that type of traffic violation," Borja said.

At the time of the stop in Riverside, Gardner had already missed court appearances on three different citations.

Even so, DMV records show Gardner's suspension on his driver's license had been lifted by the time he was pulled over in January 2010 and jail space in Riverside County is at a premium these days, according to Sgt. Borja.

"It's a matter of housing and what's available for housing. They're not going to be housed in the county jails on misdemeanor traffic citations," said Borja.

The list of vehicles Garder drove is almost as long as his list of citations. News 8's investigation reveals at least five different vehicles Gardner was driving over the past three years.

Gardner owned a white, 2004 Chevy Silverado pickup truck between 2006 and early 2009. He collected four traffic tickets in that pickup: two for speeding, one for running a red light, and one for possession of marijuana, records show.

In 2008, Gardner was cited again for possessing marijuana in a silver 2005 Hyundai Elantra registered to his step-father, Kevin O'Reilly, according to the records.

In 2009, Gardner was pulled over driving a 2005 gray Ford Focus registered to his girlfriend. He was not carrying a driver's license and had an open container of alcohol.

In June 2009, Gardner paid cash for a 1999 gold Pontiac Grand Prix. He totaled it in a parking lot, according to one family member, but not before receiving a speeding ticket for driving in excess of 70 miles per hour near Bonsal.

Which brings us to back to January of this year, when Gardner was driving his girlfriend's black 2002 Nissan Sentra and Riverside sheriffs wrote him up at that DUI checkpoint for having no proof of registration or insurance.

That was one month before Poway high school senior Chelsea King went missing and Gardner was eventually arrested for her rape and murder.

News 8 wanted to speak with the sheriff's departments in both San Diego and Riverside counties about the past citations against Gardner, but officials are unable to comment because of a gag order issued in Gardner's case.

Gardner has been charged with the rape and murder of Chelsea King, and is also being investigated in the murder of 14-year-old Amber Dubois.

Gardner's preliminary hearing – which will determine if there's enough evidence to send the case to trial – is set for August 4th.

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