Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Jury Finds Arcadia Man Sane in 2006 Hammer Attack on Attorney
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A jury has found an Arcadia man convicted of attacking Los Angeles workers’ compensation attorney Erwin Nepomuceno with a hammer to have been sane at the time of the crime.
Sentencing for Mulji Patel, who faces a possible 18 years in state prison for striking Nepomuceno in the head and shoulder during a January 2006 appointment at the Pasadena Rehabilitation Center, is scheduled April 9 before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Teri Schwartz, who presided over the trial, Deputy District Attorney Alice Milrud said.
This marks the second conviction for Patel, 70, who was previously convicted for attacking an attorney who represented his former employer, Rockwell International Corp., in a 26-year dispute over his workers’ compensation claim, Milrud said.
In 1991, Patel smuggled a gun into the courtroom of Workers Compensation Judge Charles Gordon, now deceased, and held it to the head of opposing counsel Lynn P. Peterson.
Peterson, who currently practices workers’ compensation law in Glendale, told the MetNews yesterday that Gordon tackled Patel and was able to knock the gun away and later was honored by the Carnegie Hero Fund as a result of his actions.
The weapon was found to be unloaded.
Patel served three months of a yearlong sentence and was placed on probation for that crime, Milrud said. She opined that it was “unfortunate Mr. Patel thought that this was a way to effectively communicate his frustration with his case.”
Almost 15 years later, Milrud said, Patel brought a hammer with him to an appointment at the Pasadena Rehabilitation Center where he attacked Nepomuceno, striking the attorney in the head and the shoulder.
Nepomuceno sustained a head injury, requiring staples. He is currently an attorney with Manning & Marder, Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez LLP and could not be reached for comment.
Patel pled not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges filed against him, but was convicted Thursday of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. The jury also found that he inflicted great bodily injury upon the victim.
On Monday, after about an hour of deliberations, the jury determined Patel had been legally sane during the Jan. 31, 2006 attack on Nepomuceno.
Milrud said Patel had made threats against the lawyer prior to the incident, so the attack was “not something that completely came out of the blue.”
She reflected that “on one hand, it’s quite shocking, what happened, but on the other hand, litigation can sometimes make people…very angry,” cautioning attorneys to be mindful “civil cases can sometimes turn into criminal ones.”
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company