By Amy Berberyan
RIVERSIDE, CA – During a preliminary hearing this Friday in Riverside County Superior Court, Gary Andre Lacy faced multiple felony charges of willful child cruelty and assault in a domestic violence case.
The only witness questioned during the hearing was Officer Thomas Spellacy, who had been dispatched to the apartment where the alleged incident occurred last March 17.
According to Officer Spellacy, he found the first victim—the defendant’s girlfriend of four months—“flustered” and “fearful.”
The victim told the officer Mr. Lacy “came home, came to her residence (and) after that they began an argument, after which Mr. Lacy threw a cup of liquid at her. They proceeded to the living room of the residence where they argued a bit more.”
After this argument, Lacy allegedly struck the first victim in the chest multiple times, knocking her onto her back on the ground. He then got on top of her, put his hands on her neck, and choked her for “approximately two minutes,” according to what the victim told Officer Spellacy.
At this point, the victim’s son—eight years old at the time—attempted to get the defendant off his mother by jumping onto Lacy’s back. Lacy threw the child—victim two—off his back and began to choke him “for an unknown amount of time,” according to Officer Spellacy.
Victim one then interrupted this by pushing Lacy, who stopped choking victim two and began to choke victim one again. She managed to get him off by punching him several times, she told the officer.
After Lacey released her and fled, victim one called the police, according to the police report.
According to Officer Spellacy, both victims complained about pain “on their necks,” though no physical injuries were visible.
Deputy Public Defender Thomas Steelman asked if victim one had sustained any substantial injury during the incident, and Officer Spellacy reported that “[victim one] never lost any consciousness” while being strangled and could not recall any hoarseness or anything otherwise unusual about her voice. Neither was she under any medical stress.
And Spellacy did not ask to see the bruises on her chest where she claimed the defendant had struck her multiple times.
Deputy District Attorney Sam Taloa asked that Lacy’s first count, which was for domestic battery, be a misdemeanor. DPD Steelman appreciated this request, stressing that this was an “evidentiary case” where the accused does not have a “clean record.”
DPD Steelman continued that “the evidence, the lack of injuries,” and the progress Lacy has been making in his personal life should be taken into account by Judge Jorge Hernandez.
DDA Taloa cited a few of Lacy’s felonies and the time he had spent in jail, maintaining that “this was someone who [is] well familiar with the criminal system.”
Taloa said that the fact that an “eight-year-old child who recognizes the dire need to step in physically, put his hands on a much larger man, in order to defend his mother” argued against a reduction.
He claimed that this is another “escalation to where this defendant would now retarget an innocent child merely defending his own mother.” This “ramps up criminal culpability” despite a lack of visible injury to the victims.
Based on the severity of the conduct of the defendant, DDA Taloa believed his other charges did not warrant lighter treatment.
DPD Steelman argued that Lacy was bigger than his victims and in good shape, noting, “He would have hurt her badly if he wanted to.” He stressed there was no physical evidence to agree with the statements victim one had made.
Judge Hernandez agreed with DDA Taloa with regard to the domestic battery charge and decided there was sufficient evidence to make it a misdemeanor charge.
Count 2, assault on a person causing great bodily injury, was charged as a felony. Count 3, willful child cruelty, was also charged as a felony. Count 4, a second charge of assault on a person causing great bodily injury, was also charged as a felony.
Lacy’s information arraignment prior to trial-setting is Dec. 17.