La Jolla Crime News

Man charged with felony assault-battery in ‘sucker-punch’ incident, police await toxicology results in Nautilus crash

A man was charged in San Diego Superior Court with felony assault and felony battery Aug. 29 in an alcohol-fueled incident that occurred outside a La Jolla eatery almost two years ago.

The jury found defendant Sean Hendricks guilty of the charges, one carrying an enhancement, in an attack on La Jollan John “Casey” Irwin that occurred outside Jose’s Courtroom restaurant Nov. 21, 2012.

Sentencing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Sept. 30 at San Diego Superior Court, Central Division. The charges carry a maximum sentence of up to four years in state prison, said prosecutor Cherie Somerville with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

According to the victim’s mother, Jan Irwin, an inebriated patron was “yelling obscenities and insults into the restaurant at the manager, who was not allowing him or his friend back in because of intoxication.”

The incident occurred the night before Thanksgiving, Irwin said, when La Jolla High School alumni often meet up at gathering spots in the Village.

Irwin said her son, now 32, knew the man yelling obscenities and went outside to calm him down. The alleged assailant was standing to the left of the belligerent man when her son approached.

“No good deed goes unpunished,” Irwin said. “He (Hendricks) came up, said ‘get out of here, leave us alone,’ and then out of the blue hit our son with a sucker punch to the left eye,” Irwin said. “Instead of falling backward like so many of these tragic cases, he just crumbled.”

Irwin said her son, who was bleeding and in pain, drove himself to Thornton Hospital in La Jolla, where he underwent surgery to repair a fractured left eye orbit, and remained hospitalized for days.

“He had plates and Teflon and all manner of things to repair his eye socket,” Irwin said, noting that her son had to have surgery again two months later when one of the plates slipped.

Irwin said the testimony of witnesses, as well as surveillance camera footage were crucial evidence in the trial.

Although the District Attorney’s office told the Irwin family early in 2013 they would not pursue the case because prosecutors did not feel they could get a conviction, the DA’s office phoned the family again in December of 2013 to say they were moving forward.

Irwin said she believes their decision to reconsider the case may have stemmed from a letter her son wrote to District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, pleading for justice.

“He thinks that’s what did it,” Irwin said, noting that her son is still dealing with residual effects of the assault, such as pain and double vision.

A similar incident in 2007 — involving the so-called “Bird Rock Bandits” — led to the death of professional surfer Emery Kauanui, who died after being punched in the jaw once outside his La Jolla home, then falling back and hitting his head on the pavement. Seth Cravens received a sentence of 20 years-to-life for the fatal assault.

“Every two months you read about some kid on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach or downtown in the Gaslamp that gets sucker-punched and falls back and dies,” Irwin said. The violence has got to stop. … To me, this is one case where justice eventually did get served.”

San Diego Police await toxicology report in Nautilus St. collision

San Diego Police say they have not filed charges against the driver of a vehicle that caused a three-car collision while reportedly speeding at up to 100 miles per hour down Nautilus Street Aug. 21. However, the case may be sent to the city attorney’s office for prosecution, pending results of a toxicology report, SDPD Media Services Lieutenant Kevin Mayer said.

During the incident, which happened about 9:40 a.m. the driver struck two other cars, flipped over, knocked down a power pole, street sign and palm tree, sending two drivers and two children to area hospitals.

The collision occurred at the intersection of Avenida la Reina, across from Muirlands Middle School. The driver and children in the minivan suffered minor injuries and were taken to hospitals for evaluation.

San Diego Gas & Electric Co. representative Amber Albrecht said SDG&E is evaluating the incident and will make a decision as to whether it will seek reimbursement from the driver of the vehicle that caused the collision.

Police seek driver in hit-and-run incident on Gilman Drive

Police are looking for a minivan or an SUV that mowed down a 56-year-old pedestrian in a bike lane, seriously injuring her in a La Jolla hit-and-run Sunday, Sept. 14.

The woman was walking north in the bike lane on the west side of Gilman Drive, south of Via Alacante, about 7:35 p.m., San Diego police Officer Robert Heims said.

The vehicle, described as a black Dodge or Chrysler minivan or a Jeep Grand Cherokee, was headed south, straddling the bike lane when it struck the woman.

She suffered a brain injury, a broken ankle, a gash to the back of the head and cuts to her right thigh and was taken to a hospital.

The vehicle’s driver sped off. The van would be missing a passenger-side mirror and have damage above the wheel.