ST. GEORGE – Police arrested an 18-year-old man June 5 after it was reported he was “cutting up cars,” scratching paint off vehicles and bleeding onto the inside and outside of the vehicles as he allegedly rummaged through them, causing an excess of $1,500 worth of damage.
At approximately 3:32 a.m., officers responded to the area of North Stone Mountain Drive in St. George on a report of a suspicious person in the area, according to a probable cause statement written by St. George Police Officer Ean Williams in support of the arrest.
A witness told police he saw a young man looking into vehicles and “‘cutting up cars’ and scratching several of them with what he believed was a knife,” the statement said.
The witness told police he also saw the man pulling on several vehicle door handles, according to the statement. The witness also said it appeared the man tried to remove a bicycle from the back of another vehicle, and walked onto a driveway to check the tailgate of a truck before walking into a park where the witness lost sight of him.
Officers located the man, identified as Richard Dimitri Barraza of Ivins, walking in the area, and they detained and handcuffed him.
Officers then searched the neighborhood and found damage to several vehicles, including five vehicles with “fresh scratch marks in the paint,” the statement said.
“One vehicle also had a width wise cut on the passenger side seat that the owner stated was not there before,” Williams wrote. “Fresh blood was also found on the driver side front seat of this vehicle.”
More blood was found on the door of another vehicle, the statement said, and Barraza was found to have fresh cuts on his forearms and hands. Barraza told police the cuts on his body occurred when he jumped over a fence.
At least nine unlocked vehicles were found to have been rummaged through with the vehicle contents either strewn on the street or inside the vehicle, Williams said in the statement.
The total estimated damages Barraza allegedly caused to the vehicles is estimated in excess of $1,500, according to the statement. When questioned by police, Barraza denied causing any damage and said he was just walking home.
“(Barraza) claimed to have seen another man all in black running away from the area,” Williams wrote, “despite the fact that I advised we had an eyewitness saying he was the suspect he saw.”
When Williams said he could smell alcohol on Barraza’s breath, the statement said, Barraza denied drinking alcohol and consented to a portable breath test which showed Barraza had a blood alcohol content of .201.
Barraza was arrested and booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility. He was charged with a third-degree felony for criminal mischief, nine class A misdemeanors for vehicle burglary, two class B misdemeanors for theft and alcohol consumption by a minor, and a class C misdemeanor for possession of tobacco by a minor. Note that Utah law generally defines a minor as less than 18 years of age, but exceptions apply with respect to laws involving alcohol, tobacco and to some extent driving privileges, under which a person under the age of 21 may be considered a minor.
Barraza’s bail for release pending trial was set at $23,610 during his initial court appearance Tuesday. His next court appearance is scheduled for Monday.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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