San Diego County District Attorney announced today that defendant Ryan Rukstelis, 27, was sentenced this week to 15 years-to-life in prison for a random attack that killed an elderly man at the Old Town Transit Station. Superior Court Judge Rachel Cano handed down the sentence on Thursday.
The victim, 68-year-old Martin Andara, was on his way to work at a Ralph’s supermarket in Pacific Beach at about 6:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day in 2022. After exiting the trolley and walking toward a connecting bus at the station, Rukstelis is seen on surveillance video walking ahead of Andara then slowing and stopping to wait until he is even with the victim. Rukstelis suddenly attacked Andara for no reason, punching him and pushing him directly into a freight train that was moving past them. Andara suffered severe head trauma causing almost immediate death.
“This random, chilling attack took the life of a man who was loved by his family, friends and colleagues,” said DA Stephan. “It is a tragic case that was solved by excellent police work and brought to justice by the Elder Abuse Unit in our office.”
Police analyzed surveillance footage at various train stations throughout the county and determined that Rukstelis was at a trolley station in Mission Valley hours before the attack earlier that morning. Surveillance footage captured him attempting to remove a broken front panel of a vending machine. Fingerprints were lifted from the inside of the vending machine panel, matching those of Rukstelis. Investigators arrested Rukstelis three days after the attack.
Rukstelis pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on June 30. Deputy District Attorney Scott Pirrello prosecuted this case.