SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Prosecutors re-filed robbery charges Thursday against three San Diego firefighters accused of taking a man's wallet during an early morning confrontation with him and his brother in Normal Heights.
Vadid Cisneros, 37, Andrew Brennen, 30, and Gregory Econie, 26, also face charges of dissuading a witness and making a criminal threat in connection with the incident last Feb. 26 involving Luis and Willie Martinez.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges Thursday. A bail review was set for Oct. 17 and trial was tentatively scheduled for Nov. 21.
After a preliminary hearing last month, Judge Frederic Link dismissed assault and battery charges and ordered the defendants to stand trial on grand theft - a lesser included offense of robbery - dissuading a witness and making a threat.
The judge said the Martinez brothers were the aggressors and that the defendants had a right to defend themselves. The defendants, however, pursued the alleged victims once the initial altercation was over, Link said.
In his ruling, the judge said there was a question as to how a wallet came out of Willie Martinez's pants.
Econie testified during the preliminary hearing that he, his two off- duty colleagues, and two female friends were exiting the Ould Sod bar on Adams Avenue about 2 a.m. when one of the women starting kissing a man on a nearby bench.
Econie said Luis Martinez walked up and started taking photos of the couple with his cell phone, commenting on how much money he could make by posting the photos on Facebook.
Econie said he, Cisneros and Brennen walked south toward his home, when Willie Martinez jumped off a bicycle and hit him in the face.
Willie Martinez told police after the incident that he had used methamphetamine the day before, according to court testimony.
Econie said a disheveled Willie Martinez dropped his wallet while leaning against a building, and Brennen picked some of its contents off the ground.
Luis Martinez testified that the incident started when Brennen made a derogatory comment about the alleged victim's sexual orientation as he left the bar.
Luis Martinez said the defendants pursued him on foot as he rode his bicycle eastbound on Adams Avenue. He said he was jumped from behind and punched all over his body.
The alleged victim said he and his brother rode their bicycles south on 34th Street, and he was yanked off his bike from behind by Cisneros.
Luis Martinez said he was knocked unconscious and woke up to see all three defendants kicking, beating and elbowing his brother.
Luis Martinez said the defendants told him and his brother that they, "will kill us if they saw us in the neighborhood" or area bars.
The defendants each face up to three years in prison if convicted of the robbery charges, according to Cisneros' attorney, Guadalupe Valencia.