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An ex-con accused of kidnapping a coach and a 16-year-old baseball player from a field in Kearny Mesa pleaded not guilty Friday.

Ira Stringer, 47, faces kidnapping, carjacking and robbery charges for the acts that allegedly occurred after he held the victims at gunpoint.

Stringer who is serving a 20-year sentence for robbery in Orange County, faces life in prison without parole if convicted in the San Diego case, said Deputy District Attorney James Koerber.

The prosecutor said 27-year-old Dylan Graham and 16-year-old Jack Spencer were at Hickman Field for baseball tryouts on Dec. 23, 2015, when Stringer approached them with a loaded .357 Magnum and demanded that he be driven to Ramona.

Stringer told Graham he had been in a gunfight and needed to get “far away,” Koerber told Judge Lisa Rodriguez.

Once near Ramona, Graham jumped into the back seat and tried to wrest the gun away from Stringer, who fired off two rounds and the car veered off the road and crashed, Koerber said.

Outside the car, the defendant lunged at Graham and the coach picked up the gun and fired several shots to get Stringer away from him, the prosecutor said.

Koerber said Stringer allegedly acted as if he was hurt and flagged down and carjacked a 79-year-old woman and stole her car.

Three days later, Stringer allegedly robbed a convenience store in San Diego and a few hours after that, robbed another store in Orange County with a shotgun, Koerber said.

Stringer is a three-striker with a 1995 conviction for a home-invasion robbery in Spring Valley in which he held residents overnight and threatened to kill them, the prosecutor said. The defendant was sentenced to 14 years in prison on that case.

Stringer, held without bail, will be back in court Tuesday for a status conference.

— City News Service

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