A man accused of repeatedly ramming another driver during road rage-fueled chase through Los Alamitos pleaded not guilty Thursday to 11 felony counts including nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon.
Bellflower resident Robert Allen Barnhart, 52, could face 13 years in prison and have his driver’s license permanently revoked, said Deputy District Attorney Terry Cleaveland. Barnhart was charged with nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm for allegedly ramming into another car with two people in it four times and then beating the driver of the other car.
Each felony count is considered, which means that a judge or a plea deal could see them reduced to misdemeanor charges, explained Cleaveland. If convicted for all of the maximum charges, Barnhart would automatically have three strikes on his record.
The incident happened last November when Barnhart was rear-ended in his pick-up truck by an 18-year-old driver in an Isuzu Rodeo on Bloomfield Avenue, according to the Los Alamitos Police Department.
Both men got out of their cars, and that’s when the trouble began, said Los Alamitos Police Captain Bruce McAlpine at the time of the arrest.
“The suspect was pretty livid to the point where the victim ended up fleeing because he was scared,” McAlpine said.
Barnhart allegedly chased the other driver and his passenger to a nearby gas station and rear-ended him as the driver pulled into the station, added McAlpine. So the chase continued as both drivers headed down Bloomfield and then east on Ball Road into Cypress.
According to investigators, Barnhart continued ram the other driver, sideswiping him and causing he Isuzu to spin into oncoming traffic.
“He turned the victim’s vehicle around so that he was facing west into eastbound traffic lanes,” McAlpine. “Apparently Barnhart was still not satisfied, and he gave chase again.”
In an effort to evade Barnhart, the teenage driver continued heading west into oncoming traffic. In a fourth and final collision, Barnhart turned his truck into the Isuzu, crashing into it and bringing both vehicles to a stop, said McAlpine.
“Mr. Barnhart got out of his vehicle and pulled the victim out of his vehicle and hit him,” said McAlpine.
Throughout the chase, several witnesses called 911, and police from Los Alamitos and Cypress arrived on the scene to arrest Barnhart.
Barnhart was taken into custody and released on $50,000 bail. He is scheduled to return to court next Tuesday.