When: December 14, 2017, around 9pm
Where: San Diego, America’s Finest City
It was that time of year when for many people, thoughts are turned to the holidays, and Christmas shopping.
Two of those folks were Stephanie Majsterski, 26, and James Graham, 41. Steph and Jim were strolling around the Pacific Beach area, a nice neighborhood with a boardwalk lined with trendy hotel bars and casual cafés.
It was a cool, crisp evening, and Steph had added a blue jacket to her ensemble (see above image). Jim had forgone the jacket, possibly to better display an impressive set of arm tattoos.
The couple was no doubt chatting – they did have so much in common, after all:
Steph was on probation for DUI and resisting arrest, and Jim was on parole – he’d had 10 robbery convictions going back to 2008.
However and whenever they met, clearly it was kismet.
It seems likely that holiday shopping was on their minds, too, when they walked into an apartment and demanded the occupant’s money and her car. Why else would they want money and a car except to hit the pre-holiday sales at the nearest mall?
However and whyever they chose that apartment is unknown.
But that may have been a teensy-weensy mistake; breaking into an occupied residence transitioned their act from a plain old burglary to something called a “hot prowl.”
Judges and juries tend to frown on burglaries, a “hot prowl” even more so.
Judges and juries tend to really frown when the occupant is a woman, alone, and seven months pregnant.
The victim, Caroline Souza, told Steph and Jim that she didn’t have any money, and here the couple showed some nimble thinking: Jim grabbed a wallet, laptop and some other items off a table.
While Jim did this, Steph stood blocking the front door, in case Souza tried to escape. Clearly Steph and Jim were in sync – simultaneously grabbing and blocking, all bases covered.
Then the couple left the apartment, walking “hand-in-hand,” according to Deputy District Attorney Lucy Yturralde.
Coverage of the story isn’t clear on who notified the police, but when police arrived the couple ran in different directions. See? There’s that in-sync thing again.
Jim was quickly caught – perhaps weighed down by that wallet and laptop and stuff – and Steph got away.
But Steph must have circled back, because the next thing she did was steal a police car at the scene of the crime.
Steal a police car. Wow, talk about nimble thinking!
(Later, a San Diego police officer said he left the keys in his cruiser while he and his partner chased Steph and Jim.)
Steph hopped on the freeway, headed south at 90mph to Fiesta Island and then crashed into Mission Bay:
Showing even more of that nimble thinking, Steph jumped out of the cruiser and into another car, this one occupied, and asked the driver for a ride.
In a clear demonstration that chivalry is not dead, he apparently agreed, but police stopped the car and after a struggle, Steph was arrested.
In August Steph pleaded guilty to robbery, burglary, false imprisonment, theft of a patrol car and two counts of resisting arrest. In late September she was sentenced to five years in state prison.
Jim faces trial December 4 on charges of robbery, burglary, false imprisonment and resisting arrest.
Now, Steph is only 26 so five years puts her release at age 31, assuming all goes well.
Jim, however, at 41, is looking at 55 years to life, says Yturralde.
No Christmas shopping for him for a long time.
But once he’s out, this hand-in-hand couple?
They’ll have even more in common.