One of three men involved in the theft of an automated teller machine from a Mira Mesa supermarket and the attempted theft of another ATM in Lakeside was sentenced to three years behind bars on Tuesday.
Jimmy Edward Hamilton, 29, pleaded guilty to numerous felonies, including burglary and grand theft.
Judge Laura Halgren sentenced Hamilton to nearly four years in prison, but said he could serve the first three years in a local jail and be on supervised release for the last eight months.
The idea behind the split sentence is to give Hamilton -- who has been in and out on prison numerous times on drug convictions and parole violations -- a chance to turn his life around.
Defense attorney Dawnella Gilzean successfully argued that Hamilton was not violent but a "stupid young man who is growing up."
Prosecutor Derek Grilz said Hamilton was a documented gang member, who, with two others stole a U-Haul truck last Oct. 14.
Early the next morning, the trio tried to steal an ATM from a Walgreens store in Lakeside. When that failed, the trio used a chain to pull an ATM from its foundation at Seafood City Supermarket in Mira Mesa, Grilz said.
The trio fled with the ATM in the back of the stolen U-Haul and led police on a chase down Interstate 15, with speeds reaching 100 mph, Grilz said. The driver pulled off the freeway at Fairmount Avenue and bailed on foot.
Hamilton and Gregory Eugene Moore, 28, were found in the back of the truck with the stolen ATM, and the driver is still being sought, Grilz said.
Moore posted bail and then disappeared. He was arrested last week in Arizona and extradited to San Diego, where he pleaded not guilty today to burglary, grand theft and other charges. A preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 17.
Updated Tuesday at 4:15 p.m.
-City News Service