Citizen of the Week! George Clebert Nails Just Wants to be Loved
You might not know it by looking at him, but George Clebert Nails lived in various Buena Park motels, drank beer to excess, smoked methamphetamine and liked to beat the hell out of his girlfriend, Rhonda.
After the couple spent a glorious, highly intoxicated Fourth of July 2009 holiday, Rhonda did the improbable. Somehow she decided she'd tired of Nails and wanted to leave. I'm guessing that she might not have been happy that in a fit of rage he'd broken one of her fingers.
But Nails was having too much fun and didn't want the party to end.
After the couple had a fight in a liquor store while buying more beer, Rhonda fled to a friend's house, which was a shack built into a tree in an industrial park's parking lot.
An unhappy Nails eventually found her alone in the tree house and did what any normal man would do. He told her he was going to kill her. He then used a boxer cutter to slice Rhonda's neck, arms, hands and legs. He slapped and kicked her. At some point, he also tried to choke her and pulled out clumps of her hair.
For some unknown reason, Rhonda felt like it was time to escape. But Nails grabbed a small baseball bat and slugged her twice in the face. Blood poured from the wounds.
Let's turn to the court record for what happened next: "Nails then positioned himself between Rhonda's legs and tried to spread them apart and shove the bat into her vagina."
Again, for some unknown reason, Rhonda wasn't cooperative. She begged him to stop and, being the gentleman he most certainly is, he stopped.
Rhonda, however, has trouble following commands. At a hospital, Nails told her to say that her head wounds, which took 20 staples to close, happened when she clumsily fell off her bicycle. She told doctors the truth when he wasn't paying attention.
At his Jan. 2011 trial, Nails claimed that Rhonda had assaulted him. An Orange County jury didn't buy it. They convicted him of attempted murder, burglary, assault, domestic violence, criminal threats and attempted sexual penetration with a foreign object. Superior Court Judge Carla M. Singer sentence him to prison.
Nails appealed. Jurors became unfairly biased against him when the prosecutor improperly told them that he'd thrown a beer can at Rhonda the day before the assault, he claimed.
This week, a California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana crafted a four-word reply: "We reject his contentions" and then supplied an explanation.
"Evidence of a person's past conduct generally is inadmissible to show his or her propensity to commit the charged crime, but is admissible to prove facts other than propensity, such as motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity or absence of mistake or accident," wrote Presiding Justice Kathleen E. O'Leary on behalf of two of her colleagues. "Nails' act of throwing the beer can at Rhonda was not some inadvertently misplaced friendly toss of a beer to a friend on a hot afternoon, or some playful gesture on Nails' part, but was an attempt by Nails to either injure Rhonda or to place her in fear of injury if she did not comply with his demands that she remain with him."
Upshot: Nails's chances of becoming a male model finally might be over. The 47-year-old will continue to serve his life in prison sentence at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego. There are no women to beat up there.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.