Click photo to enlarge
Courtesy San Jose Police Department -- Pictured is James Palmerson,18, of San Jose. He was arrested Jan. 24, 2013 in connection with a violent home invasion robbery which occurred Jan. 21, 2013 in south San Jose. Two other young men were arrested along with Palmerson.

SAN JOSE -- The name sounded familiar and his age seemed to match up.

When 18-year-old James Palmerson was arrested as a suspect in a San Jose robbery spree that included the home invasion of an older couple, several residents with an ear for news flashed back to 2009. They wondered if he is the same James Palmerson who, as a middle-schooler, took off with his girlfriend in his grandmother's car and made it all the way to Denver before being found.

Palmerson's grandfather, whose wife's Honda Civic served as the unwitting runaway car, confirmed Wednesday that the robbery suspect and his fleet-footed grandson are one and the same.

"We're terribly distraught right now," said Peter Palmerson, who said he learned of the arrest mere minutes before he was contacted by this newspaper.

James Palmerson, along with San Jose residents Miguel Marez, 19, and 18-year-old Ezra Santana, are scheduled to appear in court Thursday in connection with four armed robberies between Jan. 19 and Jan. 21 in East San Jose and the Almaden Valley. Police listed Palmerson as a San Jose resident but his grandfather says he lives near San Martin with his mother.

After his arrest, James Palmerson wrote a letter of apology to the home invasion victims, according to a police report.


Advertisement

The younger Palmerson grabbed national headlines in January 2009 when as a 14-year-old he took off from his grandparents' Los Altos home in their car, picked up his 13-year-old girlfriend from her Saratoga house and drove off into the night, authorities said at the time.

They eluded detection for more than two days before police found them and the car in suburban Denver, swaddled in clothing to fend off freezing temperatures. The boy's attempted use of his grandfather's canceled ATM card helped authorities narrow their search for the missing youths.

Four years later, James Palmerson is in custody after being implicated in another high-profile incident, this time the home-invasion robbery of an Almaden Valley couple who was threatened with knives and bound with duct tape by three intruders who ransacked their house. The trio placed the couple in a bathtub, gave them pillows and asked where their valuables were located, according to a police report.

The robbers fled in the couple's two cars, which were later found abandoned in Hollister and underwater in the depths of the Uvas Reservoir.

Palmerson was arrested Jan. 24 -- almost four years to the day after the 2009 runaway -- by officers responding to a police call, and Marez was arrested the same day. On Jan. 25, police arrested Santana in Gilroy.

Since the arrests, police said they linked the trio to three other robberies. That includes a violent Jan. 19 robbery where they stabbed a pedestrian multiple times in the 4100 block of Monterey Highway, the Jan. 20 armed robbery of a taco truck on Story Road and Knox Avenue and, a few hours later, the holdup of a Wienerschnitzel in the 2800 block of Story Road.

The three suspects are jailed on suspicion of armed robbery, false imprisonment, assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping and burglary.

Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.