by Neal Putnam
A man was ordered to stand trial Monday (July 31) for vandalizing the Metropolitan Community Church in which a surveillance camera caught his image as he threw a cinder block through a door and windows, causing damages of $4,272.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Evan Kirvin ordered Richard Meza, 29, held in custody to answer for a felony charge of committing vandalism over $400 on Jan. 10.
Kirvin watched the video surveillance tape showing the man believed to be Meza angrily throwing rocks, a cinderblock, and a soda bottle at two windows and through a glass door at the church at 4 a.m. at 2633 Denver Street in Bay Park.
San Diego Police detective Anna Anikanova and officer Anthony Hair testified at the preliminary hearing. Both talked to Chase Brooks, a former MCC staff member, who made the police report on the vandalism, so Brooks did not have to testify.
When asked Monday to comment about Meza’s case moving forward, MCC’s Senior Pastor Dan Koeshall said, “We wish him well. We’re praying for him.”
A second felony charge of vandalizing a house of worship was changed to a misdemeanor because the judge said the prosecutor filed the wrong code section. Kirvin said the prosecutor may be able to refile the charge under another code section. The prosecutor could not be reached for comment afterward.
Meza, of San Diego, pleaded not guilty at the end of the preliminary hearing and a trial date was set for Sept. 19. He remains free on a “supervised” own recognizance release.
The damages to the building were repaired not long after it happened, once the church set up a GoFundMe page. Donations came to $4,074, and some people even donated from out of state.
–Neal Putnam is a local crime reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].