Last updated: 10:11 AM ET, Tue July 21 2015

Man Sentenced in San Diego Tourist Carjacking

Impacting Travel | Patrick Clarke | July 21, 2015

Man Sentenced in San Diego Tourist Carjacking

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

A man who pleaded guilty to stealing a rental car from two tourists in San Diego earlier this year has been sentenced to seven years and eight months in prison, NBC 7 reported Monday.

In addition to carjacking, Lawrence Atwood pleaded guilty to use of a deadly weapon and abating arrest during the frightening March incident.

A husband and wife were visiting San Diego when they stopped at a gas station in Old Town. Police said that after the husband went into the gas station, Atwood, who brandished a knife, jumped into the driver's seat and ordered the wife to get out of the car.

Atwood then led police on a dangerous pursuit through a nearby neighborhood before ultimately surrendering. 

"It really has affected her life," said Deputy District Attorney Jalyn Wang via NBC 7, referring to the wife. "She felt that the defendant was extremely bold and brazen to do this in broad daylight and he just seemed so disconnected from the gravity of what he was doing."

Atwood's defense attorney Saba Sheibani highlighted the 47-year-old's ongoing battle with drug addiction in requesting a reduced sentence, and claimed her client was unaware someone else was in the car when he attempted to steal it. 

Nonetheless the judge noted Atwood's lengthy criminal history involving battery, theft and other serious charges prior to handing down his prison sentence. 

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