SANTA ANA (CNS) - A parolee convicted of car theft and attempted carjacking made his first appearance in court Tuesday in Santa Ana on charges related to a chaotic chase from Fullerton through Los Angeles County that included the theft of a van and work truck along the way before the suspect was subdued at a Whittier gas station.
Johnny Anchondo, 33, of Moreno Valley, did not enter a plea at his arraignment, which was rescheduled for Feb. 3 in the North Justice Center in Fullerton.
Anchondo's attorney, Marty Ann Andrews of the Orange County Public Defender's Office, unsuccessfully argued for no video of the hearing from local news reporters. She argued the identity of the suspect in the case was at issue, but Orange County Commissioner Joe Dane referred to live reports of the chase on TV news stations.
"I am aware generally of this case," Dane said. "Based on that I personally don't see it as an identity case. ... His case has been covered in the media already."
Dane kept Anchondo's bail at $200,000, but the defendant's attorneys can argue for a lower bail at the next hearing.
Fullerton police attempted to pull over Anchondo about 6:45 p.m. Nov. 9 for traffic violations, but he kept going and led police on a chase to a condominium complex, where he dumped the car and ran away, prosecutors said.
Anchondo then jumped into a white van, and despite police attempting to hem him in, he rammed the vehicle in reverse against a squad car to get away, prosecutors alleged.
The chase, which reached speeds of nearly 100 mph, wound through northern Orange County to Whittier, where Anchondo dumped the broken-down van and ran into a home in Whittier, where he grabbed keys and stole a work truck, prosecutors said.
Anchondo nearly crashed the work truck into several Los Angeles County sheriff's squad cars in a cul de sac as he turned around and kept going, prosecutors said. He allegedly crashed the truck into two other cars before the truck was rammed by two Los Angeles County sheriff's squad cars, prosecutors said.
Anchondo is accused of nearly running over two deputies, prompting gunfire from law enforcement, prosecutors said. The defendant was not injured in the gunfire.
Anchondo is charged with single counts each of carjacking, burglary, leading police on a chase, and resisting arrest, eight counts of assault with a weapon on a police officer, five counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of theft with a prior felony conviction for auto theft, and three counts of vandalism, all felonies.
Anchondo was also charged with evading a peace officer and driving against traffic, three counts of hit and run with property damage, a count of brandishing a weapon, a count of possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia, all misdemeanors.
He could face up to 54 years in prison if convicted of all charges at trial, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
Anchondo was convicted in December 2021 in Los Angeles County of attempted carjacking, according to the criminal complaint.