An Indio man charged in robberies and burglaries across the Coachella Valley pleaded not guilty today to almost 50 crimes.
Samuel David Lawson Jr., 40, is charged with 47 felony counts -- mostly robbery and burglary --- and one misdemeanor battery count for alleged crimes dating to August 2011.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Victoria Cameron set Lawson's bail at $11 million when he made his first court appearance last week at the Larson Justice Center in Indio and accepted his not guilty plea today at his arraignment. He is next due in court Feb. 26.
Lawson was arrested Dec. 27 about 1 a.m. in Palm Desert on suspicion of burglary in the 74000 block of Country Club Drive.
Lawson had "key pieces of evidence" that tied him to armed robberies and commercial burglaries, Riverside County sheriff's Sgt. Tom Brewster said.
Information obtained through searches of Lawson's vehicles and home implicated him in armed robberies at fast food restaurants and gas station/convenience stores and burglaries at businesses from August 2011 until Thursday, Brewster said.
According to the criminal complaint, Lawson allegedly used tear gas when he robbed Perez Images, an adult video store in Cathedral City, in September 2012.
Lawson allegedly burglarized multiple Coachella Valley businesses, including Palm Desert Cyclery, LensCrafters and Gucci in Palm Desert, Lumpy's Golf Supplies in La Quinta and several optometry offices. He allegedly robbed businesses including Bower Security in Palm Desert, a Palm Springs International Airport kiosk, Pizza Hut in Palm Desert and Carl's Jr. in Indio, Palm Desert and Cathedral City.
If convicted, Lawson could face life in prison because he has three "strikes," according to John Hall of the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.