At the age of about 15, I started stealin’ cars and stealin’ beer and all that stuff. Well, one night three of us stole a car from the Mobil gas station in Ocean Beach, and we were ridin’ around, and coming through Old Town, and a police officer pulled up next to us in an unmarked car. We didn’t know he was a police officer, and we asked if he wanted to race, and he flashed his badge at us just as we were startin’ to come out of Old Town and hit Highway 8. We tried to outrun him, and it ended up in a high-speed chase past Presidio Park, and we crashed the car along the middle divider of the freeway. We were all arrested and put in juvenile hall.
I stayed in juvenile hall for about two months. My father was working refinishing hardwood floors, and my mother was living in Ocean Beach, and they were divorced. The juvenile courts felt I was beyond my mother’s control, so they put me into custody of my grandmother in Ocean Beach and let me out of juvenile hall on probation.
My grandfather had died when I was about 12, and it seems like that’s when all my troubles started. I was an only child until the age of 7, when my sister was born. In the fourth grade, we moved to El Cajon. I went to Madison Elementary School and played Little League baseball, mostly shortstop and pitcher. When I was picked for the All-Stars, everybody else had a new glove except me. I stole a baseball glove at Thrifty’s so I wouldn’t be the only kid without one. But my father found out. After a couple hours of hitting me on the rear end with a belt, I admitted I’d stolen it, and he had me return it and tell ’em I was sorry, which I did. And I ended up playin’ in the All-Star game with my old glove.
At around 13, I started gettin’ in fights. We moved back to Ocean Beach, and in ninth grade, I went to Point Loma High School. I was kicked out for fightin’, and they made me go to Midway Continuation School, where the academic requirements wasn’t that strict. I went from eight in the morning till noon and took typing. That was my school day.
Along about this time was when we started drinking, Red Mountain wine and beer, anything we could get. The people I ran around with, the big thing on Friday and Saturday nights was goin’ to dances and fightin’ with the guys. The excitement appealed to me. Life was boring durin’ the week. Plus, if you won your fights, you became popular.
After stealin’ that car, I stayed on probation for a few months, then I met this girl at a party in Point Loma, and I guess you could say it was love at first sight. We were 15. We ended up goin’ together for a while, then she became pregnant. We went to Tijuana and got married. It didn’t matter if it was legal or not, it just seemed like the thing to do.
The crime started pyramidin’ at this time. The police were lookin’ for me, and six months later, when my wife was pregnant, I was arrested for armed robberies, service stations and the El Cajon Theater. Another person did the theater, with me in the car in the alley, waitin’. I set there for over five minutes, and he never came back. I got out of the car and found him still standing at the ticket booth window, pleading with the girl to give him the money. The girl had the money drawer up to the window, but it was too big to fit through the slot. So he was panickin’, and she was tryin’ to just have him stick his hand in there. I ran up to the window with a gun and told her to put the money in her purse and stick it through. I put a few other little colored words in there to make sure she did it and took us serious. And she did it, and we ran away with about $250.
I had quit goin’ to school. I think the life of crime started from boredom. And you let a kid have too much freedom with nothin’ to do, and with a little bit of peer pressure and a lotta the blame on his own self, he’s gonna do something wrong. Not all kids are like that, but I guess I was.
Anyway, Sherry and I were runnin’ wherever we could to hide. We were at my uncle’s house one day, and the police pulled up. My uncle, who is dead now and was one of the best friends I ever had, lived on Midway Drive by the go-go bars. Three cop cars pulled up, lookin’ for me for these robberies. My uncle seen ’em comin’, so he put us in a little trailer outside of his house, and by the time the police got up the driveway from Midway Drive, he had started paintin’ the trailer. While we were settin’ in the trailer, the police asked him if he knew where we were, and he stood there and painted the door of this trailer, tellin’ ’em he hasn’t seen me and doesn’t know anything, so after a few minutes they left.
A week later, I was arrested. They got me in El Cajon, where I was stayin’ with my mom, who had moved there from Ocean Beach. I’d come home one day and found her cryin’. She said that while she was gone that day, a neighbor was baby-sittin’ my three-year-old brother, and the neighbor had tried to molest him. When I found this out, I ran down the street to his house and caught the guy in his garage, and I stabbed him a number of times in the chest with a switchblade. For some reason, he didn’t die. I was arrested and also charged with the armed robberies.