Suspected car thief released 21 times

FRESNO, Calif.

Collin Earheart, 19, is accused of stealing several cars, including two this Wednesday. He's been at the jail since his second arrest that day.

It's the longest he's stayed in jail after any of his 22 arrests, but his next stop may be prison.

Earheart wore a red jail jumpsuit to court Friday, but it's a uniform that has never stuck to him for long.

The teenager accused of stealing more than a dozen cars has been arrested 22 times in less than 6 months and he's been released quickly 21 times.

This time, Judge Jon Kapetan had him locked up on a $112 million bail -- calling him a significant danger to society. And this time, the Fresno County Sheriff's Office has found room for him in the jail.

They deny making a special effort to keep him locked up, despite his lack of violent crimes, which qualified him for early release every other time.

Earheart's girlfriend is Marissa Rackley. She was arrested with him one of the times he was caught in a stolen vehicle, and now her fate is tied to his.

"He's a good person," Rackley said. "He's nice. He'll do anything to help someone. If that means he has to steal a car and get rid of it because your family needs money so you have a place to stay, he's going to do it."

She believes he needs drug rehab and life skills, so he can support himself and help his friends without stealing cars.

"His problem is, he's good at that and when you're good at something, you continue to do it because it makes you feel good," she said. "He's not good at anything else in his eyes and that's the one thing he knows how to do."

Prosecutors offered Earheart an 8-year prison term to resolve all of the 55 charges against him. If he pleaded guilty, prosecutors would've dropped the one charge against Rackley.

But Earheart's attorney convinced him to turn down the deal.

"Would you have taken any deal today?" an Action News reporter asked defense attorney Kojo Moore, of Ciummo and Associates.

"Sure," Moore said. "I would've taken probation."

"But then he's out on the streets and this is a guy who knows nothing but stealing cars," said the reporter.

"I would disagree with that," Moore said. "It's early right now. Once again, these are just allegations. Nothing's been proven. Nothing's been substantiated. He'll get his day in court."

Earheart's next court date is Aug. 25, but the sheriff's office says there's no guarantee he won't be released from jail before then.

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