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Published: Friday, March 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Suspect in felony theft of wallet pleads not guilty

EVERETT -- An Everett man is now facing a felony theft charge for a purse-snatching that left another man fighting for his life.
Nicholas Prieto pleaded not guilty during a brief hearing Thursday in Snohomish County Superior Court. He was being held on $150,000 bail. Prosecutors say Prieto is a flight risk and also potentially could be a danger to the community.
Prieto, 24, doesn't have any prior felony convictions. He has been convicted of a handful of misdemeanors in recent years, including domestic violence assault and soliciting drugs.
Prosecutors allege that Prieto committed the theft in the middle of the day outside a Safeway on Evergreen Way.
A husband and wife were leaving the grocery store on Oct. 3 when a stranger ran up behind them and grabbed the 70-year-old woman's wallet out of her hand.
Her husband, 69, chased after the man, following him to a nearby apartment building. A tenant, Rafael Aguirre, joined the chase. Aguirre caught up with the suspect as he tried to jump a fence. He dropped his backpack and tussled with Aguirre, who pulled off the man's sweatshirt and hat.
The suspect scaled the fence and escaped.
Meanwhile, the husband had collapsed to the ground with a heart attack, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Laura Twitchell wrote. He wasn't breathing when Everett police officer Brett Gailey arrived. Another bystander, Larry McLynne, was giving the man chest compressions.
Gailey took over life-saving efforts. The man began breathing again. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
In February, Everett police were notified by the Washington State Patrol crime lab that genetic evidence recovered from the ski hat matched Prieto's DNA.
He was arrested on Feb. 21 and booked into the Snohomish County Jail. Prieto also had a warrant for his arrest at time he was jailed for the Oct. 3 theft.
Both Aguirre and McLynne recently were recognized for their actions at an Everett Police Department awards ceremony.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » EverettProsecution

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