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Prosecutors Lay Out Case Against Man Accused In SF Firefighter Hit & Run

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Albert Bartal (CDF Local 2881)

Albert Bartal (CDF Local 2881)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Prosecutors Thursday discussed the case against a man accused of intentionally running down a Cal Fire firefighter in San Francisco early Thanksgiving morning.

The discussion happened in San Francisco Superior Court Thursday morning at a bail hearing for the suspect’s girlfriend, 22-year-old Alyssa Tejada, who is accused of trying to cover up the crime.

The suspect, Eduardo Esquivel, 22, is accused of striking Albert Bartal with a Mazda CX-7 early on Nov. 24 near Geary Boulevard and Ninth Avenue in the Richmond Distict after an altercation at a Jack in the Box two blocks away.

Bartal, 29, suffered life-threatening injuries in the collision.

Esquivel was arrested Nov. 29 at a home in South San Francisco and has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other charges. He is being held in jail on $5 million bail.

Tejada was arrested last week and pleaded not guilty to being an accessory to the crime after the fact for allegedly keeping the Mazda from police and planning to have it repaired.

Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai said in court Thursday morning that video from a surveillance camera at the Jack in the Box at Geary Boulevard and 11th Avenue shows that Tejada was there shortly before Bartal was struck.

The prosecutor said Esquivel was also caught on video saying, “I’m going to f— him up right now, I’m fitting to go f—— run him over.”

He said Tejada took numerous steps to cover up the crime afterward, including ordering parts from a Mazda dealership on her credit card to repair the vehicle, which she had rented because her car was being serviced.

She also called the rental car company and asked to keep the car a week longer, Talai said. She was later contacted by San Francisco police, who asked her to turn the car in.

But instead of handing it over at a police station, Tejada drove it to the city’s Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood and left it there with the keys inside, perhaps “hoping someone else would take the car,” Talai said.

Police eventually picked up the car after being notified of its whereabouts by Tejada’s defense attorney Jai Gohel.

Gohel said, “I’m not going to argue that she didn’t know something serious had happened … but in the end, she did the right thing.”

He argued for the reduction of her $200,000 bail, while Talai argued for the bail to remain the same.

Judge Samuel Feng sided with the prosecution and kept her bail at $200,000, saying Tejada’s alleged actions “are not something that’s done right away; it has some thought behind it.”

Feng also ruled to combine the case with Esquivel’s over the objection of Esquivel’s attorney, Tim Palm.

Palm argued that Tejada’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday, which will not allow him enough time to properly review all of the evidence in the case.

He said the evidence includes surveillance footage from the Jack in the Box, a Shell gas station near where Bartal was struck, and a camera at a nearby mortuary that appears to show the vehicle striking him.

The case will return to court Friday to address the scheduling issue and possibly set a date for a joint preliminary hearing.

Bartal has worked for the past five years as a seasonal firefighter for Cal Fire and is also a Marine who served in the Iraq war.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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