'Give us that phone and wallet': Court papers detail alleged crimes by former USC, LSU players

A Los Angeles man had a knife held to his throat outside his home, police say.

A woman in a Camarillo parking lot had her purse and phone snatched at knifepoint, according to investigators.

And a man was allegedly punched in the face before his car was stolen and crashed into a parked car.

These are among the new details from court papers and investigators about the two-day string of robberies that were allegedly carried out by a group including a former USC tight end and a former Louisiana State University football player.

Prosecutors confirmed Tuesday that a third man was charged in connection with the crimes that began in Ventura County on Jan. 18 before moving through parts of Central and South L.A. in the predawn hours the following day. 

Former USC football player Bryce Dixon, 19, and former LSU lineman Trey Lealaimatafao, 19, were arrested in January. Both were charged with six counts of second-degree robbery and one count each of carjacking, attempted carjacking and assault with a deadly weapon, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. They’ve pleaded not guilty to the allegations.

Prosecutors filed the same set of charges last week against Montrell McDuffie for his alleged role in the case, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Elizabeth Padilla confirmed to The Times that McDuffie remains at large and that a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Authorities in Ventura County -- where four incidents were under investigation in Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura -- said that a fourth suspect, a 17-year-old male, was in custody. His identity and the charges against him were not released because he is a juvenile.

Three suspects -- Dixon, McDuffie and Lealaimatafao -- have been charged in connection with the robberies that occurred in Los Angeles. 

Ventura County sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Chips said that before the group headed to L.A., two of the suspects approached a man walking to his car from a Target in Camarillo about 7:45 p.m. on Jan. 18. One of the suspects brandished a pocket knife and asked for the victim’s property, Chips said. The victim escaped into the Target.

Within 15 minutes, two of the four suspects approached a woman in the parking lot of a Camarillo outlet mall. The pair brandished a knife and made off with her purse and cellphone, Chips said.

In the series of robberies, the exact role and identity of each suspect is unclear.

“We know all four are involved,” Chips said. “We have two or three different versions of what happened.”

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Once the group arrived in L.A., the level of violence appeared to escalate.

Shortly before 2 a.m. Jan. 19, the first robbery occurred near 23rd Street and Grand Avenue, near Los Angeles Trade Technical College, according to an affidavit filed with a search warrant and written by LAPD Det. Michael Lanza.

A victim was punched in the face when he refused to hand over his phone to three males, one of whom carried a black metal pipe and another carried a knife, according to the affidavit.

About 2 a.m., a person walking into his home saw a black SUV drive by and then turn around. Three males exited the SUV and rushed toward the victim, punching him in the face.

“As he was lying on the ground, Suspect 2 held the knife towards his throat,” according to the affidavit. “After rummaging through the victim’s pockets, all three suspects ran to the dark SUV and fled the location.”

Forty-five minutes later, two suspects approached a woman in her parking garage, telling her, “You’re going to give us that phone and wallet.”

She refused.

One suspect brandished a knife. The other “simulated a handgun by grabbing his front waistband with his right hand,” according to court papers.

As she gave the assailants her phone, a third person walked over with a “black metal rod” and “forcefully grabbed [her] wallet from her hand and removed money,” according to the affidavit. 

About 6:15 a.m. -- nearly three hours later -- two assailants pushed a female victim walking along Adams Boulevard near Halldale Avenue in the Adams-Normandie neighborhood, according to the affidavit.

She refused to hand over her property, but the pair followed her, rifling through her pockets before snatching her cloth bag, according to the affidavit. Around the same time, a person nearby had her backpack snatched from her by two male suspects, according court papers. 

About 6:20 a.m., a man in his car was approached by a suspect “holding a dark metal object,” according to court papers. Two other men walked over and one of them punched the victim in the face.

“In fear of his life, the victim got out of his vehicle and attempted to run inside his residence,” according to court papers. One of the suspects hopped into the man’s vehicle and drove, but “seconds later” he crashed into a parked car, according to court papers.

Shortly before 6:30 a.m., the seventh robbery targeted a female who was carrying two bags while walking near her home, according to the affidavit. One of the suspects said, “Give me the bag, give me the bag.”

One of the victims apparently recalled the license plate of the SUV, and police identified it as a black GMC Terrain. About 1 p.m. that day, LAPD officers pulled the car over, finding Dixon, Lealaimatafao and a black metal pipe resembling the weapons involved in the robberies.

The SUV was registered to a Simi Valley woman and her daughter, who was also in the car when police arrested Dixon and Lealaimatafao. Chips, the Ventura County sheriff’s detective, said the woman was not a suspect in the case.

After Dixon and Lealaimatafao were arrested, "several victims" identified them, according to the affidavit.

Attorneys for Dixon and Lealaimatafao could not be reached for comment. Joshua Ritter, a lawyer representing Dixon, previously told The Times that his client was not involved in the alleged crimes.

“When all the evidence and facts come out, he’s going to be vindicated,” Ritter told The Times in January.

In May, Dixon was expelled from USC after two alleged incidents of misconduct in fall 2014, both involving the same female USC student who was an athletic trainer at the university.

He was cleared of misconduct for an Oct. 9 incident, but was found to have violated USC's “affirmative consent” policy on sexual activity during an Oct. 23, 2014, incident.

Dixon challenged his expulsion in court, and a Los Angeles judge reinstated him. Although he returned to the university, he was not allowed to play on the football team.

In a lawsuit, Dixon said USC's investigative procedure for sexual-misconduct claims is "utterly lacking" in due process.

Lealaimatafao, a Texas native and defensive tackle, signed with LSU but was kicked out last June after three off-the-field incidents. He was arrested on suspicion of simple robbery and simple battery.

Both men are being housed in an L.A. County jail. Dixon is being held in lieu of $420,000 bail, and Lealaimatafao on $400,000 bail. 

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno.

Times staff writers Gary Klein and Richard Winton contributed to this report.

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