SAN RAFAEL (AP) — The trial of a Northern California teenager charged with the brazen theft of celebrity chef Guy Fieri’s Lamborghini sports car from a San Francisco dealership has started in a Marin County courtroom.
Max Wade, 19, has been charged with commercial burglary and auto theft in the 2011 heist that was pulled off by a burglar who rappelled into the British Motors dealership and drove off in Fieri’s $200,000 convertible, which was being repaired. He is being tried as an adult, although he was a minor when the theft occurred.
Marin County authorities who were investigating Wade in an unrelated drive-by shooting found the missing car last year when they followed him to a storage facility across San Francisco Bay.
Wade also has been charged with attempted murder in the shooting, which involved a girl whom Wade allegedly liked and her boyfriend. Neither was injured.
“Max Wade already had the flashy yellow Lamborghini, but he wanted to have the beautiful blonde to go with it, and he was willing to kill to get it,” Deputy District Attorney Yvette Martinez told jurors during opening statements in a San Rafael courtroom Friday.
Defense lawyer Charles Dresow countered that only circumstantial evidence links his client to either crime.
“The Lamborghini theft and the shooting occurred. There is no doubt about that,” Dresow said. “They were victims. The evidence will show that they were not victims of my client.”
Wade has pleaded not guilty to all charges, which would carry a maximum prison term of up to 30 years if he is convicted.
Along with Fieri’s car, Marin detectives found the gun allegedly used in the shooting, climbing gear, two assault rifles and shotgun shells, a San Francisco Police Department uniform and badge and false identification cards for California, Florida and New York.
The Marin County sheriff’s department has taken extra security precautions, such as tethering the defendant to a chair bolted to the floor, for Wade’s trial, which is expected to last about a month.
Last year, at least two suspects tried to break into the Marin County juvenile detention facility with sledge hammers in what investigators believe was unsuccessful attempt to free the teen. Outside the jail, investigators found holes cut into two perimeter fences, bolt cutters and a damaged window at Wade’s cell.
His mother, Leylla Wade, took offense at the prosecution’s description of her son, calling it “cruel” and “untrue.”
“Of course I’m his mom and I’m going to defend my son, but he would never, ever try to take someone’s life,” she told the Marin Independent Journal.