Seven years for man who tried to kidnap Encinitas teen

An Escondido man who admitted trying to kidnap an Encinitas teen with the intent to rape her last summer was sentenced Monday, May 21, to seven years in prison, the District Attorney’s Office said.

Jeremiah Owens, 28, must also register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, the office said.

The July 26 attack happened on Neptune Avenue, a residential street with cliffside homes overlooking the ocean, and busy with neighbors and surfers in the late afternoon

The victim, who was 15 at the time of the attack, testified at a preliminary hearing for the men last year.

She said she was riding her bicycle and nearly home — the plan was to get her surfboard for a solo surf session — when she spotted two strangers by a pickup truck.

They made her uneasy, she said. Not wanting to let them know where she lived, she decided to wax her surfboard in a neighbor’s driveway.

She was on her knees, back to the men, when a foot suddenly appeared on her left and a hand grabbed the back of her neck.

The girl fought off the attacker — later identified as Owens — and confronted him briefly.

The girl said the second man looked surprised and apologized as she backed away from Owens.

She said she heard the second man say, “Go in the house” — a statement she thought was not directed at her, but toward the man who’d grabbed her.

She backed away and took refuge in the neighbor’s home. The men left in the pickup. She called her parents, then called 911.

Two days later, tips helped sheriff’s deputies track down the pickup and arrest a pair of Escondido roommates: Owens and Christopher White.

In a recorded interview played during the preliminary hearing, White told deputies that they were hanging out when Owens suddenly took off toward the girl. White said he figured Owens might try to talk to her. Instead, Owens grabbed her.

White said he yelled at Owens to stop. He also said Owens later told him he “had this primal urge come over him.”

Owens pleaded guilty April 9 to a charge of attempted kidnapping with the intent of rape.

On Monday, White pleaded guilty to being an accessory to kidnapping. The District Attorney’s Office said the 28-year-old will be sentenced to one year in custody and three years of probation.

White’s sentencing is set for June 19.

--Teri Figueroa is a reporter for The San Diego Union Tribune