SAN DIEGO -- A 92-year-old man accused of using a shotgun to kill his son while he slept in the Old Town home they shared pleaded not guilty Friday to a charge of murder.
"The defendant took a shotgun and shot and killed his son while his son was asleep in a bed," Deputy District Attorney Daniel Shim told FOX 5.
Richard Landis Peck was arrested Wednesday night after going to a neighbor's house in the 2300 block of Juan Street about 6:20 p.m. and allegedly telling her that he had just shot his 51-year-old son Robert.
Officers arrived moments later and found the victim dead in his father's residence from a gunshot wound.
Defense attorney Doug Gilliland told Judge Maureen Hallahan that Richard Peck was the victim of "extreme psychological abuse" from his alcoholic son, who was going through a divorce and had moved in with his father about three months earlier.
Within those 90 days, the defendant feared for his safety and called police twice, Gilliland said.
"The son, Robby, wasn't employed for a long period of time. He was an alcoholic. He’s had issues with alcohol and he’s tried to get clean and sober unsuccessfully," Gilliland said.
In one instance, Robert Peck was held for a mental health evaluation, and in another instance, police said it was a family matter and they didn't want to get involved, according to Gilliland.
The defendant's family had been trying to intervene for some time and were unsuccessful in trying to get Richard Peck to spend some time away from San Diego in Athens, Georgia, Gilliland said.
The day of the shooting, Robert Peck smashed his father's telephone and told the older man, "I'm going to see you again" as he went off to bed, Gilliland alleged.
"At the end of the day, the defendant took a gun and shot and killed his own son," Shim said. "He took someone else's life and he did not have the right to do that.”
Gilliland said Richard Peck was a retired attorney who led a law- abiding life and was not a danger to the public. The defendant appeared in court in a wheelchair, but uses a walker at home, Gilliland said.
The judge ordered the nonagenarian held on $500,000 bail and said she would review the amount at a hearing on Tuesday. A status conference was scheduled Nov. 29 and a preliminary hearing was set for Jan. 11.
The defendant faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Daniel Shim.