Bail cut in half for 92-year-old charged with murdering son

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SAN DIEGO — A judge Tuesday halved the $500,000 bail for a 92-year- old murder defendant accused of shooting his son in the head as he slept in his father’s Old Town residence.

If Richard Landis Peck makes bail, he will be subject to house arrest and can leave his home only for medical appointments and court appearances, said Superior Court Judge Jay Bloom.

Given his age, the defendant is likely to have health problems and “sitting in jail is basically a death sentence,” the judge said.

Defense attorney Doug Gilliland — who asked the judge to release Peck on his own recognizance — said his client had a heart attack three weeks ago and also recently broke his hip. In letters written to the court, friends described the defendant as a “kind” man and “quiet gardener” who had never been in trouble with the law, according to Gilliland.

The nonagenarian was arrested the evening of Nov. 14 after going to a neighbor’s house in the 2300 block of Juan Street and telling her that he had just shot his son, according to police. Officers arrived moments later and found the victim dead in his father’s residence.

“This was basically an execution,” Deputy District Attorney Daniel Shim told the judge, in arguing unsuccessfully to keep bail at $500,000.

The defendant’s attorney alleged his client’s 51-year-old son was an alcoholic who was psychologically abusive toward his father. Robert “Robbie” Peck was going through a divorce and had moved in with his dad about three months earlier, Gilliland said. Within those 90 days, the defendant feared for his safety and called police twice, the attorney 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, who said the defendant’s housekeeper was also “terrified” of his client’s son and wanted to quit.

A dog in the home was kicked repeatedly and was found floating in a pond, the defense attorney said.

The defendant’s family had been trying to intervene for some time and was unsuccessful in trying to get Richard Peck to spend some time away from San Diego in Athens, Georgia, Gilliland said.

The attorney said Richard Peck told family members last September that Robbie was trying to make changes to his will.

The day of the shooting, Robert Peck smashed his father’s telephone and told him, “I’m going to see you again” as he went off to bed, Gilliland alleged.

The defendant is due back in court Nov. 29 for a status conference. He faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted.

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