More than just Guy Fieri’s stolen Lamborghini: The Max Wade Trial

I’ve already told you all about Guy Fieri testifying in the trial of Max Wade, the kid who allegedly stole Guy’s “GUYTORO” Lamborghini back in 2011 (two days after Fieri got in a physical fight with his drunk hairdresser on the way home from the airport). The burglary itself is an amazing story on its own. Not only did someone rappel down from the roof through the open window of British Motors in San Francisco, cut the locks on the roll-up doors, and drive off in Guy Fieri’s frosted-tip-colored Lamborghini, all without tripping the alarms, that someone was allegedly a 16-year-old kid at the time. Who, according to the prosecution, planned his crime in part by Googling “Mission Impossible Burglary,” “Mission Impossible Rappelling,” as well as various questions on how to see and beat motion detector sensors.

The scene would make for the world’s most compelling Siri ad (“Siri, make me a super villain”), but the story, incredibly, does not end there. Not even close. It gets even more complicated than Danger Guerrero’s recent timeline.

According to a San Francisco Magazine story, the window of the shop was mysteriously left open that night and the on-duty janitor has since disappeared. To say nothing of who might’ve driven the thief to the shop in the first place. Wade lived across the Golden Gate Bridge and surely didn’t walk there.

Police found the car more than a year later across the bay in Richmond, in a storage unit leased to a Marin County teenager named Max Wade, from Tiburon. Well, sort of. It was actually leased to “Carmine Colombo,” and judging by the fake Texas driver’s license reading “Carmine Colombo” with Max Wade’s picture on it that police also found, we can reasonably infer. What kind of kid carries around a fake ID with an even faker-sounding gangster name on it? Probably the same kind of kid with the balls to steal a famous yellow Lamborghini and drive it around for a year.

Police caught up to Wade while investigating another crime, the drive-by shooting of Eva Dedier and Landon Wahlstrom, two other Marin teenagers, at whom five shots were fired while they were sitting in Wahlstrom’s white Dodge Ram pickup in Mill Valley on the morning of April 13th, 2012. All missed. The shooter, who was dressed in all black – black helmet with visor, black neck covering, black jeans, black sweater, black vest, black gloves – who was variously described by witnesses at a nearby Whole Foods as “a ninja” and “out of The Matrix,” pulled up alongside the couple, and shot up the truck with a .38 special snub-nosed revolver. From three feet away, the motorcyclist fired five shots, with the first hitting the door frame behind Wahlstrom’s head and the next four hitting the passenger side sun visor or going through both windows as Wahlstrom and Dedier ducked below the window line. The motorcyclist sped off without firing the sixth bullet. Police pulled surveillance footage from a nearby gas station. The motorcyclist was completely covered and never lifted his visor, but their first lead was the “BiLT” logo on the fancy helmet, which turned out to be somewhat rare, and was only sold in one shop nearby. Surveillance footage from the shop led them to Max Wade.

After getting Eva Dedier to set up a meeting with Wade, police tailed him, catching up with him at the gate of the storage facility in Richmond. By then, Wade was aware that he was wanted, and was apprehended supposedly while reaching for a Glock .45 he had tucked in his waistband. That’s according to police (when’s the last time cops found a guy reaching for a gun and didn’t kill him?). He also had on him four extra clips, $1500 in cash, and a fake ID with the name “Frank Agnello Gotti” on it, Wade clearly being infatuated with gangsters.

Inside the storage unit, police found Guy Fieri’s $220,ooo Lamborghini (now with the “GUYTORO” license plate replaced with a stolen one), along with a “potpourri of gadgets,” including guns, police scanners, signal jammers for radio and cell phones, and a full police uniform and mask. This along with a receipt for the motorcycle gear, a motorcycle, and a .38 special revolver with five spent casings in the chamber. The ballistics on the bullets taken from the scene matched the revolver, and the 1980 Honda motorcycle found in the unit matched surveillance photos of the rider (still in the BiLT helmet and black gear) crossing the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza after the shooting. The license plate on the motorcycle had likewise been stolen, from a Suzuki parked in the Marina district of San Francisco, just across the bridge from Marin.

(Max Wade’s friends’ rap song about him. Probably the first and last time the Marin Independent Journal will ever get a shout-out {“front page IJ…”} in a rap song)

There wasn’t much of a connection between Eva Dedier and Max Wade other than that Dedier bought fake IDs from him. They’d hung out briefly a few times, and Max had twice delivered IDs in the Lamborghini. It says a lot about Tiburon, one of the richest zip codes in the country, the part of the San Francisco Bay that looks like it’s fist bumping Angel Island, that Eva thought it “wasn’t that unusual” to find a kid her age driving a $200K Lamborghini. What’s a guy gotta do to impress a girl like that, shoot her boyfriend?

Wade and Dedier’s total face-to-face interaction added up to less than 30 minutes. Nonetheless, Wade texted a friend, “That girl Eva, I wanna f*ck her so bad it ain’t funny.” It was one of many slangy teenage texts dispassionately read back at the trial by Detective Bryant, with all the surreal flatness of a congressman reading rap lyrics.

After his capture, Wade was placed in juvenile custody on $2 million bail. While there, Wade’s friends…

1. Recorded a terrible rap song in front of a borrowed Lamborghini (see above).

2. Attempted to bust Wade out of juvenile hall with a sledgehammer.

Wade was scheduled to be transferred to the adult jail because he turned 18 on Friday. Michael Daly, the county’s chief probation officer, said the Juvenile Hall breach was unprecedented in his 23-year career.

The break-in attempt was reported shortly after 4:30 a.m. at Juvenile Hall, which is off Lucas Valley Road about a mile and a half west of Highway 101.

The facility staff heard banging on the walls, moved Wade and other juveniles to other areas and called the sheriff’s department. Sheriff’s Lt. Barry Heying said employees saw “at least two people out there with a sledge hammer.”

The suspects ran off. Sheriff’s deputies converged on the scene with police from San Rafael, Novato, Mill Valley and the California Highway Patrol.

Authorities found holes cut into two perimeter fences, bolt cutters, a sledge hammer and a damaged window at Wade’s cell. A backpack that included a change of clothes was found on nearby Huckleberry Road.

More than 40 deputies and officers, as well as two police dogs, searched buildings and the neighborhood. The search was called off at 7:15 a.m.

The officer called the attempt “pretty dumb” and said “everyone should know it’s not very easy to break into a detention facility.”

And yet… they didn’t catch the accomplices either, something you’d expect them to do when two guys (kids?) show up and start banging on the wall of a correctional facility with a sledgehammer.

(Fieri’s fight with his hairdresser outside the San Francisco airport on the way to town to testify)

In any case, it was these facts plus the chance to see The Mayor of Flavortown in person that led me to drive up to the famous Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Marin County Civic Center to watch Fieri’s testimony and closing arguments in the Wade case, where Wade is facing six separate charges:

1. Premeditated Attempted Murder (Wahlstrom)

2. Premeditated Attempted Murder (Dedier)

3. Firing Into An Occupied Vehicle

4. Commercial Burglary

5. Auto Theft

6. Possession of Stolen Property

After watching Guy Fieri walk through metal detectors wearing a watch, a chunky metal bracelet, earrings, a necklace, and at least two rings, I took a seat next to a middle-aged guy in a suit with a crew cut, who was sitting with a dark-haired woman in a bedazzled, Juicy-style hoody sweatsuit getup. I immediately took the woman for Max Wade’s mom, Leylla Beddiar Wade, based on the outfit and the French accent. Sitting to their left where I could see both Wade and the woman side by side, it became even more obvious: the both have the same upper lip. It rests higher on the left side and gives them a constant sneering expression. Similar to “resting bitch face,” it’s not especially sympathetic looking for a defendant.

Fieri testifies (see artist’s amazing interpretation here). One of the jurors has a ponytail and clear-lensed Oakley Blades, surely a Fieri fan. The prosecuting attorney, a youngish Latin girl named Yvette Martinez, seems to be trying hard to drive home the point that Fieri is a celebrity.

MARTINEZ: And Mr. Fieri, what is your occupation?

FIERI: I’m a chef.

MARTINEZ: …And what kind of chef are you?

FIERI: Uh… I cook food, I own restaurants, I’m on television…

MARTINEZ: Would you say that you’re a celebrity chef?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY CHARLES DRESOW: (sounding bored) Objection, relevance.


I guess she’s trying to paint “Colombo Gotti” Wade as celebrity-obsessed? Through his association with a celebrity’s car? Hard to say, but a strange interaction. Dresow also objects to a question about the value of the car, which is also sustained.

Fieri, crunchy haired and personable as always, finishes testifying (maybe five minutes total) and the assembled reporters – ABC, CBS, and NBC – all rush out to interview him. The judge allowed them a single camera to share between the three. At some point between walking through the metal detectors and walking out of the court after testifying, Fieri must’ve taken off the rings, since he isn’t wearing them in the post-court interviews. Are they the source of his cooking powers? I couldn’t say.

After Judge Vieira Simmons reads what seems like a thousand mind-numbing pages of jury instructions, most of them complicated ways of explaining the obvious or intuitive, Martinez starts her closing argument, which includes Power Point slides.

“This is no longer the masked gunman…” she begins. She brings Wade’s mugshot on screen, in which he looks at least 20 pounds heavier than he does in court. “He thought he was a celebrity…” “He tried to kill two people…” “He did it for no other reason than to get the beautiful blonde…” “This defendant, when he sees what he wants, he gets it…”

She mentions internet research Wade did on plastic handcuff keys, and brings up a picture of the four clips Wade had on him when he was arrested. “This defendant is always prepared…”

Wade’s internet history plays a big part in Martinez’s argument/presentation. In addition to the research on “mission impossible burglary,” rappelling, beating laser detectors, jamming equipment, “how to register stolen cars in other states,” there are texts that Wade sent to friends, including:

“Doesn’t get any better than boostin Lambos and pickin up chicks at 17.”

“‘Cause when I see flashing lights in my mirror I don’t stop. This is all hypothetical of course I’m not gonna acknowledge shit. But check out where I live on FB.”

This last being a reference to the Tiburon, where news reports said they’d traced Fieri’s car, and where Wade lived, according to Facebook.

Martinez makes much of how many times Wade had visited Dedier and her boyfriend Wahlstrom’s Facebook pages, painting him as obsessed. She refers to evidence about the path of the bullets, the crux of which is that, after pointing the gun straight at their heads (Wahlstrom testified that he was looking straight down the barrel), Wade fired five times, all hitting inside the cab of the truck. None in the hood, none in the bed, none in the tires — all with intent to kill. Wade’s mom tisks and looks uncomfortable the entire time.

All told, it lasts about two hours, with a 15 minute break towards the end, when Martinez returns drinking a Rockstar energy drink, wrapping things up.

The defense attorney, Dresow, a burly blond guy, takes over right away with his own closing argument, beginning with a rather didactic history lesson, including quoting a letter Jefferson wrote to Thomas Paine in 1789. He tells the jury that they’re “the guardians of the constitution,” and that “reasonable doubt is the highest burden we have in the law,” while making a subtle dig at Martinez’s Power Point presentations.

I did find those unsettlingly mundane for an attempted murder case. The whole operation seems pretty quaint and Mickey Mouse, and it’s easy to forget that it could end with a kid spending 30 years in prison. But I guess most criminal court cases are like that, deceptively consequential, they don’t feel like they matter much unless you’re the one on trial.

The crux of the defense’s case is that there was multiple DNA on the revolver, none of Wade’s hair was found in the helmet, and he was never seen on the motorcycle nor was there record of him purchasing it. Dresow explains away Wade’s DNA on the nose piece and chin strap of the helmet as something that clearly came from Wade trying it on at the store (of which there’s surveillance footage – the connection between Wade and the bike that he can’t refute).

I’d expected the defense to concede most of the points related to stealing the car and being the driver of the motorcycle, and focus mainly on intent to kill, which seems hardest for the prosecution to prove. Instead Dresow refutes everything. There’s no evidence that the clothes Wade is shown buying in the surveillance footage and found in Wade’s locker even fits, Dresow argues. “All evidence that he was the man on the motorcycle is circumstantial,” he says.

He makes a much easier to buy argument against the idea that Wade was obsessed, focusing on how little interaction he’d ever had with Dedier. He also contrasts all the internet research evidence and evidence and planning the prosecution has for the burglary, with the lack of it for anything related to firearms or killing. “It’s interesting,” he says. “The motive doesn’t make sense…”

Throwing in another didactic aside about the history of the jury trial and the forms of justice that predated it, like trial by combat and trial by ordeal, Dresow attacks the most difficult part of the prosecution’s case – intent to kill. “He shot from three feet away. Based on the muzzle velocity evidence, you cannot ‘duck’ a bullet going that fast at that range,” he says, pointing out that none of the bullets hit below the window line, where Wahlstrom and Dedier had been ducking. He also brings up testimony that Dedier and Wahlstrom’s plans that day had been spontaneous, and that there was no way Wade could’ve known they’d be together that morning or where Wahlstrom lived, refuting the prosecution’s argument for premeditation.

To me this was the strongest part of the case. Based on the evidence, it seems like you could make a case that Wade was probably trying to kill them, but with him shooting almost entirely into the roof of the truck, I couldn’t say so beyond a reasonable doubt. (Maybe Wade had second thoughts when he saw Dedier was in the truck? Who knows.). A blonde woman near me apparently disagreed, conspicuously shaking her head and rolling her eyes throughout this part of Dresow’s closing argument. Was she a relative of the victim, or an impartial observer? Hard to say, but an important question.

Neither the prosecution nor the defense brought up anything about Wade’s possible accomplices, which Wade plainly had, both from the guys trying to break him out of juvie to the unidentified party who drove Wade to his storage unit to pick up the Lambo, all while he was being tailed by police.

Neither did either bring up any of Wade’s texts or Facebook page visit stats to people other than Dedier and Wahlstrom. Seems to me if you’re trying to prove that a kid’s obsessed with a girl by using his text to a friend that he’d like to f*ck her, that obsession could be easily refuted using texts to the same effect about other girls. Which seems pretty standard among 17-year-old boys. Or the reverse, that Dedier was the only girl Wade talked about this way, or visited her page for more than anyone else. (These lawyers need someone with SEO experience!)

My sense was that the prosecution had done an adequate job proving everything but the first two counts. If Max Wade wasn’t a rich white kid, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion, but as it is, it seemed like it might be tough to get a jury to agree on intent to kill. As I type this, the jury is still deliberating.

I’m just thankful that Guy Fieri was tangentially involved in all of this, or else we might never have heard this bizarre story.