SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — Seven men from the East Coast pleaded not guilty in Sonoma County Superior Court Wednesday morning to charges in connection with three home invasion robberies near Petaluma last week.
The defendants were allegedly looking for marijuana when they kicked down doors of three different homes in the 100 and 200 blocks of Eugenia Drive in unincorporated Sonoma County around 3 a.m. March 12, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. None of the residences had marijuana inside, the sheriff’s office said.
Allegedly at least one homeowner was tied up and reportedly pistol-whipped, sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Crum said. The seven men were arrested the same day.
The seven men were booked in the Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of robbery of an inhabited dwelling, burglary, false imprisonment, kidnapping and conspiracy. Six of the men are being held on $1 million bail and one on no bail.
An eighth suspect, 20-year-old Jade Lafay Johnson, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was arrested March 15 in Winston-Salem. She is being held there on $1 million bail and she is expected to be extradited to Sonoma County to face prosecution, Crum said.
The eight suspects are from the Richmond, Virginia and Winston-Salem, North Carolina areas, Crum said.
Four of the men were arrested after a pursuit into Novato and three men were arrested when they allegedly tried to board a plane to the East Coast at San Francisco International Airport, Crum said.
Attorneys have been appointed for the seven defendants in custody and preliminary hearing dates were set for May 1 to 3.
The Petaluma home invasion robberies are the second marijuana related offenses in Sonoma County this year.
Three men from Mississippi, New York and Virginia and a Santa Rosa man were arrested and booked in to the county jail on Feb. 8 for two home invasion robberies, burglary and a murder during one of the robberies. Their next court date is March 28.
Two of the four defendants are being evaluated to determine whether they are mentally competent to participate in court proceedings.
A fifth suspect in the February robberies, Amber Hembree, 20, of Richmond, Virginia remains at large.
Authorities are investigating whether the two home invasions are connected.
© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.