92-year-old gets house arrest for killing abusive son

SAN DIEGO -- A 92-year-old man who shot his son in the head last fall as he slept in his father's Old Town residence, following what family and friends said was continuous, abusive behavior on the part of the son, was sentenced to three years probation Thursday following a guilty plea to a voluntary manslaughter count earlier this year.

Richard Landis Peck had been facing a murder charge and a potential 50- year-to-life sentence in the death of his 51-year-old son, Robert, who defense attorneys, Peck's family, and friends said was abusive to his father. Per the terms of his probation, Peck will be required to remain confined to his home on an electronic monitoring device, but will be permitted to leave the residence for grocery shopping, attending religious services and other errands.

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Kathleen M. Lewis said she agreed to impose probation rather than prison time because the record indicated Peck's son was "psychologically and emotionally abusive" to his father, in addition to taking account for Peck's age and frail physical condition, having recently suffered broken hips and heart attacks.

Robert "Robbie" Peck was going through a divorce and had moved in with his dad about three months prior to his death, Peck's attorney, Douglas Gilliland, said. Within those 90 days, the defendant feared for his safety, calling police twice, the attorney said.

He was told by police that 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.

Abusive acts dictated by the court included Robert Peck shoving a rag soaked in dog's urine into his father's face, throwing objects at him, and disabling his father's phone.

Robert Peck,  described by Lewis as an "extreme alcoholic" who had a .39 blood alcohol content at the time of his death, also told his father that he "was almost dead, that he had no purpose to live" and that he "needed to die of natural causes so (Robert) could inherit his money," the judge said.

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 attorney said the most assistance Peck was able to receive was a 72-hour psychiatric hold on his son, after which he immediately returned to Peck's home and the abuse continued, prompting another call to authorities just a week later.

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 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.

Gilliland said that Peck remains "extremely remorseful" for what happened and "lives with this every day." The attorney said that Peck is a victim, but accepted the plea agreement because he "feels like he wanted his day in court, but at the same time understood the risks of going to court and the resulting state prison commit."

In addition to home confinement, Peck is required to pay about $4,800 in restitution to pay for his son's funeral costs.

Peck is also being sued by his son's estranged wife, Annette, and her son, in a wrongful death suit for somewhere in the "tens of millions of dollars," according to Gilliland, though he contended that he didn't know how they arrived at that amount "considering the wife had filed for divorce, having locked Rob out of the house and he really had no meaningful contact with the family."

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