UPDATE, OCT. 1, 12:41 P.M.: If the allegations described in the original post sound as if they were rooted in a mental health issue that requires special handling for the accused ... well, we'll see. Because Craig Andrew Ledbetter now faces felony charges that could send him to state prison for 12 years if he is convicted, according to prosecutors. The 51-year-old Irvine resident is charged with attempted murder, elder and dependent adult abuse and battery with serious bodily injury, the Orange County District Attorney's office announced.
Ledbetter is also slapped with misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and resisting and obstructing an officer as well as sentencing enhancements for great bodily injury to an elder. Prosecutors say they will seek $1 million bail at arraignment scheduled for Friday in Santa Ana. An arraignment statement describes even more violent acts than what is reflected in the original police account. For instance, after pushing the elderly woman to the ground and getting on top of her and punching her in the face and chest, Ledbetter is also accused of "standing up and repeatedly kicking the victim in the head," the OCDA says. "He is accused of taking the victim's small dog by the leash and swinging the dog over his shoulder."
ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 1, 9:34 A.M.: Mr. Clean ... Beldar ... Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera ... so many young television viewing memories are flooding back.
I don't know where that came from, so let's shift gears to report Irvine cops arrested a 51-year-old resident who they confronted Tuesday afternoon on a residential street where he was allegedly naked, swinging a stick and acting aggressively. Worse, Craig Andrew Ledbetter is accused of assaulting an elderly woman who was walking her dog.
The call came in around 2:30 p.m. of "a man acting strangely on Rockwood Street," according to Irvine Police Lt. Bill Whalen. Officers arrived to find Ledbetter--remember, naked and swinging a stick--ignoring their commands and acting aggressively toward them, said Whalen.
Cops had actually stopped Ledbetter some hours before (and presumably clothed). "He had been acting bizarrely, but the officers ... did not have justification to take him into custody at that point,'' Whalen said.
But for round two, the officers apparently had justification to use a taser to take the obviously disturbed fellow into custody. Police located a 75-year-old female woman who was walking her dog when Ledbetter assaulted her, according to Whalen. "There is no known motive for the assault and it does not appear that Ledbetter and the victim knew each other prior to the assault," the lieutenant added.
During the attack, Ledbetter is accused of taking the woman's dog. The force of the snatching caused the pooch to come loose from its collar and it ran away, Whalen said.
The woman was taken to an area hospital where she was receiving treatment for injuries the police spokesman did not specify. But her son-in-law Neil Fitzsimons told ABC7 she suffered a broken arm, bruises and other injuries--including temporary blindness.
Fitzsimons said his mother-in-law's attacker yelled expletives at her before knocking her to the ground from behind. He "punched her repeatedly in the chest, knocked her to the ground, apparently sat on top of her naked," the son-in-law told Channel 7. "Her eyes are swollen shut. She can't see; she's essentially blind at the moment."
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Police Animal Services officers searched extensively throughout the afternoon and evening and were able to locate the dog late Tuesday night. The victim's uninjured black poodle was returned to the family, Whalen said.
Ledbetter and the elderly woman reside several houses away from one another, according to Fitzsimons, who added the family moved to the neighborhood three months ago. The suspect apparently lives with his two children, and his ex-wife answered the door when ABC7 came knocking. She indicated Ledbetter had been acting strangely the past few days. "I want him to get help," said the ex. "I don't want him to come back."
He probably won't be coming back for some time. Ledbetter was booked into Orange County Jail on suspicion of felony aggravated assault, elder abuse, resisting a police officer and animal cruelty. But the incident is still being investigated, and anyone with helpful information is asked to call Detective Gavin Hudson at 949.724.7168.