MARTINEZ -- A Walnut Creek contractor accused of holding a day laborer hostage in a Lafayette house last year was ordered to trial Monday on felony false-imprisonment and robbery charges.
Juan Carlos Morales, a 43-year-old Nicaraguan immigrant, testified at a preliminary hearing for defendant Tod Morton that Morton changed into police clothes, handcuffed him and tried to make him drink an unidentified pink liquid before he escaped the Lucas Court residence and had neighbors call 911.
"Help me, help me," Morales testified he screamed as Morton chased him, shoeless and handcuffed, down a long driveway.
The alleged victim said Morton met him on Oct. 15, 2012, outside a Home Depot in Concord and brought him to the Lucas Court house, where he cleaned gutters and did other yard work before Morton directed him to a storage room inside the house to dust.
Morales said Morton returned to the room dressed as a police officer and told him he was under arrest for being in the country illegally. After handcuffing him, Morton searched his body and stole his pocket knife and cell phone, Morales said.
He said Morton tried to make him drink the pink liquid multiple times before leaving the room. Morton was looking in a closet when Morales sneaked by his captor and fled the residence, according to the testimony.
Authorities have not identified the test results of the pink liquid. Morton told police last year that he thwarted the day laborer from committing burglary that day, but there was no testimony related to his defense at the short preliminary hearing Monday.
Morton is free from jail on $125,000 bail. He returns to court Nov. 12.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.