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Trial ordered for suspect in road-rage beating of elderly man

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Ron Torncello

Ron Torncello after the beating.

EL CAJON, Calif. — A La Mesa resident accused of beating a 76-year-old man in an East County road-rage dispute will face trial on elder abuse and assault charges, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Judge Lantz Lewis ruled that police and prosecutors had enough evidence of a crime to try 56-year-old Thomas Clayton Sikes on the charges. Sikes, about 6 feet 3 inches and 285 pounds, was arrested July 24 based on an anonymous tip in the April 30 attack.

If convicted, he faces nine years in prison, Deputy District Attorney Carlos Campbell said.

Sikes allegedly attacked the older man about 10 a.m. after a dispute in a parking lot in the 500 block of Fletcher Parkway in El Cajon, then fled in a red SUV.

The older man, an Army veteran named Ron Torcello, allegedly was talking on a cell phone while driving in a parking lot outside drugstore, and that allegedly set off Sikes.

Prosecutors said Sikes has a history of violence related to driving and, in August, a judge  increased his bail from $35,000 to $150,000.

Surveillance cameras captured images of the fight, which left the victim with broken bones in his face, among other serious injuries.

Sikes is due back to court Oct. 29, when a trial date is expected to be set.