Men on trial for 2008 bank heist in Paso Robles

Prosecutors made opening statements Monday in the trial of two men accused of taking over and robbing a Paso Robles bank in 2008.

Thomas Cameron Kincade, 50, of Fontana and Tino Ortega Simmons, 34, of Bakersfield have pleaded not guilty to charges including kidnapping while committing a robbery and false imprisonment at a Citibank branch at 16th and Spring streets.

Kincade also is charged with using a firearm during the June 24, 2008, robbery.

Deputy District Attorney Dave Pomeroy laid out the prosecution’s case in his opening statements — connecting the men to the alleged crimes with evidence that included cell phone records, DNA and video surveillance of the heist.

Pomeroy said the men, wearing motorcycle helmets with Harley-Davidson logos, told several people inside the bank to get down on the ground.

One of the men then ordered a bank employee to take money from the vault and put it in a backpack, Pomeroy said.

A bank customer was entering the building as the robbery was in progress and tried to turn back to her car, but a third man in the alleged getaway van told her to get inside the building.

Kincade was found about 20 minutes after the heist on the Highway 41 southbound on-ramp in the van that two witnesses said was used at the bank.

Investigators served a search warrant at Simmons’ Bakersfield home. There, they reportedly found $119,500 in a backpack, two motorcycle helmets and bandannas with DNA that matched Kincade and Simmons.

On Monday, Kincade, representing himself in court, and Simmons’ attorney both declined to make opening statements — which may be made later in the trial after the prosecution presents its case.

Two bank witnesses testified after Pomeroy made his opening statement, including branch supervisor Christy Schaeffer, who said that one of the robbers told her that he wouldn’t hurt her after seeing a photo of a child on her desk.

Schaeffer also reportedly told one of the men to “leave her alone” when they forced the bank customer inside.

Schaeffer said, when Kincade asked if she could determine the race of the men, that they were both African American because she could see the skin between their eyes and face coverings. Both Kincade and Simmons are African American.

During Kincade’s questioning, Schaeffer said she couldn’t recall whether she could see through the visors of the helmets or if the visors were lifted up during the robbery. She said later on the stand that she was in “shock.”

Bank manager Dee Anthony was outside the bank in her car during a lunch break when she saw the alleged getaway van back out from the bank’s lot and then enter a nearby alley.

Anthony, who said she didn’t know at the time the van was used in the heist, said she later identified the vehicle to police at a Highway 101 freeway on-ramp in Atascadero.

Bank officials testified that they calculated that $119,500 was missing from the bank after the heist, the same amount investigators found when they visited Simmons’ home.

The trial resumes at 9:30 a.m. today in Judge Barry T. LaBarbera’s courtroom.