- The Tribune
San Luis Obispo, CA
December 1, 2005
Two patients are charged in beating of ASH staff member
Prosecutors allege Nov. 17 assault on a female
psychiatric technician was 'done in concert'
By Sarah Linn
County prosecutors have filed criminal charges against two Atascadero
State Hospital patients, accusing them of severely beating a female
staff member with their hands and feet.
Raymond Albert Lopez, 34, and Lynford Jay Perry, 29, face felony charges
of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, with enhancements
for great bodily injury. Both men have pleaded not guilty.
"We're alleging that it was done in concert," Deputy District Attorney
Karen Gray said, adding that prosecutors believe the Nov. 17 incident
was a premeditated attack.
According to investigative reports examined Wednesday by The Tribune,
the alleged assault took place around 10 p.m., just after the
psychiatric technician finished her shift.
Wahida Abdeen-Poncelet, 41, was walking past Perry and Lopez's unit with
another staff member when Perry "shoved (her) back with both of his
hands forcefully," Officer David Biro wrote in a Nov. 18 report.
Lopez later told hospital police that Perry slammed the woman into the
wall and punched her "like 10 times," according to the reports.
"Lopez said, 'I hit her in the back of the head and kicked her in the
leg,' " Officer Sean Keller wrote after interviewing the patient early
Psych tech Joe Meade, 36, and another patient punched and kicked the men
to drive them away from the woman, according to investigative reports.
Staff members found Abdeen-Poncelet lying unconscious in a pool of
blood, the reports said, bleeding from her head and face and clutching a
ring of hospital keys in her hand.
Hospital spokeswoman Barrie Hafler said Abdeen-Poncelet is still at home
recuperating from her injuries, including cuts and a fractured kneecap.
"She's going to be away for a while," Hafler said.
Investigators say it's unclear why the patients might have attacked
According to investigative reports, the psych tech had recently argued
with Perry about using a water dispenser in a way that violated unit rules.
Both men are mentally ill offenders considered too dangerous to be
released on parole into the general population, Hafler said last month.
Perry's attorney is questioning whether his client is mentally competent
to stand trial.
At a Nov. 23 arraignment, Jay Peterson asked the court to appoint two
psychiatrists to examine Perry's mental health. Their report is due Dec.
19, when Perry next appears in court.
Lopez is set to appear in court Dec. 16 for a pre-preliminary hearing.
The men were being held Wednesday at County Jail.
Neither Perry nor Lopez's attorney, Christine Cummings, returned calls
for comment Tuesday or Wednesday.
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