A Santa Monica man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that he carjacked and kidnapped a man who was waiting for his wife outside the UCLA Public Health Building last fall.
Jason Levi Garza, 43, is charged with one count each of kidnapping for carjacking, carjacking with a firearm, kidnapping, criminal threats and assault with a firearm, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Garza kidnapped the man at gunpoint last Oct. 3, ordered him to drive to another location and then forced the man into the vehicle’s trunk, according to Deputy District Attorney Maria Ghobadi. Garza allegedly drove around for more than six hours before releasing the man in a desolate area of Castaic, according to testimony presented at a June 28 hearing in which he was ordered to stand trial.
The man was able to get help after walking for about 90 minutes to a freeway call box, the prosecutor said.
Garza was arrested 10 days later by the UCLA Police Department and has remained behind bars since then, according to jail records. He is due back at the Airport courthouse Aug. 10 for a pretrial hearing.
If convicted as charged, he could face up to life in prison with the possibility of parole, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors say Garza was convicted in 2011 of second-degree robbery.