Joyce Char, OC 2010 Homicide No. 63: Dies from Son Hitting Her in Head with Shovel in 2009

Robert Lawrence Char

pleaded guilty on July 9, 2010, to trying to kill his mother by hitting her repeatedly in the head with a shovel 11 months before. He was later sentenced to nine years in state prison and had been sitting in a cell at Vacaville ever since.

Now, the 49-year-old is back in Orange County, where he will sit in a jail cell awaiting a murder trial. His mother, Joyce Char, 74, of Fountain Valley, died last December, and doctors found the head injuries her son inflicted on her caused her death.

The mother and son were living together in her Fountain Valley home when they got into an argument on June 20, 2009. She wanted him to do some work around the house. He wanted her to leave his room. She would not. He grabbed a shovel and hit momma's head over and over and over.

Courtesy of Orange County District Attorney's Office
Robert Lawrence Char signed a guilty plea form admitting to the crimes against his mother, prosecutors claim.

He then left the home, went to a neighbor's and asked that 9-1-1 be called because he needed medical assistance. Paramedics arrived to find Joyce Char suffering from blunt-force trauma to the head. She was rushed to a hospital.

Cops also took the call. They arrested Robert Char at the home. He was charged with her attempted murder in June 2009. He pleaded guilty the next year to one felony count each of attempted murder, elder and dependent abuse, and resisting or delaying an officer, with sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a deadly weapon and causing great bodily injury to an elder.

The Orange County district attorney's office, in announcing the new murder charge against Char, states that he signed the following, written on a guilty-plea form:

June 20, 2009, I unlawfully, with the specific intent to kill, attempted to murder Joyce C., who I knew to be 70 years of age or older, by willfully and unlawfully causing and permitting the suffering of Joyce C. During the commission of this offense I also personally used a shovel and inflicted great bodily injury on Joyce C. I also willfully and unlawfully resisted and delayed an officer from discharging his duty.

Joyce Char remained hospitalized and in a coma until her death. Doctors stated the blunt-force trauma to the head killed her. The Orange County district attorney's office charged Robert Char with Joyce's murder on Feb. 9, 2011.

He now faces one felony count of murder, with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. If convicted, he could get up to 26 years to life in state prison. He is being held without bail and has an arraignment hearing scheduled for Wednesday morning in Santa Ana. Senior Deputy District Attorney Sonia Balleste of the Homicide Unit heads up the case.


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