Trial ordered for pair in crow-bar attack on elderly man

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GavelSAN DIEGO — A man and a teenage boy accused of breaking into a Lake Murray home and beating an 81-year-old man over the head with a crow bar must stand trial on robbery, elder abuse and other charges, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Joshua Jett, 23, and 17-year-old Adam Donaldson, who is being prosecuted as an adult, each face nine years in state prison if convicted in the Nov. 28 attack on Thomas Hoover.

Hoover testified that he was watching television around 3 p.m. when Donaldson came to the door of his home in the 8400 block of Harwell Drive, asking if he had any work for the teen.

The victim — who lived alone — said he told Donaldson no and shut the door.

Within five to 10 seconds, Hoover said he was hit with a crow bar at least three times and fell to the floor. Hoover said Jett demanded money and threatened to kill him if he didn’t hand over the cash.

The victim said the robbers took a watch and two rings off his body, along with other valuables. Hoover said the entire ordeal last about five to 10 minutes.

San Diego police Officer Gregory Bisesto testified that he responded to the scene after an anonymous caller said two males were trying to break into Hoover’s home with a crow bar.

Bisesto said he saw two males running from the victim’s driveway as he pulled up in his patrol car — Jett with a full backpack and Donaldson with two suitcases and a crow bar.

The officer said he pulled alongside the suspects and ordered them to stop or he’d release his service dog, but they continued running. Bisesto testified that once he ordered his police dog to go after the suspects, they dropped to the ground.

As he tried to handcuff Donaldson, the defendant yelled to Jett, “See, why did you make me do this?” the officer testified.

Bisesto said Jett was angry and said, “How did you find us? Did someone rat us out?”

Once handcuffed, Jett told the officer that there was a man bleeding from the head inside the burglarized house and that police should check on him, Bisesto said.

Officer Eric Portnoy, who put Jett in his patrol car, testified that Jett told him, “The guy inside is really hurt. You should go inside and check on him.”

Portnoy testified that he searched Jett’s pockets and found keys, coins and prescription medications taken from Hoover’s home. Portnoy said he also recovered more than $600 in cash, a blood-stained gold watch and a cell phone from Jett.

In addition to robbery and elder abuse, the defendants are charged with burglary and false imprisonment. Jett also is charged with making criminal threats and trying to dissuade a witness from filing a police report.

Judge Kenneth So ruled that enough evidence was presented during the morning-long preliminary hearing for Jett and Donaldson to stand trial. Arraignment in Superior Court was set for Jan. 30.

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