‘I was bending over picking up trash, and the next thing I know I got two slugs on the side of my head.” The pink-haired woman demonstrated with her arms in the witness box of a North County Superior Court room, Monday, June 11, 2018. “It was like a fist, and boom boom... like that.” She said that while he was hitting her, the man was yelling, “That’s my stuff! That belongs to me! Get your hands off it!”
David William Pepper, 61, heard the testimony against him in court during a preliminary hearing. He pleads not-guilty to one felony count of harm to elder. In Sheriff’s records he is described as 5 feet 8 inches tall and 160 pounds.
The alleged victim, who turns 77 this year, said she was struck, “About six times.”
The witness said she moved to Fallbrook a year ago, and that she commonly picks up trash when she walks down the street. “Cause we’re not a trashy community.”
But her kind efforts were not rewarded the afternoon of May 23. “You’re not expecting, when you’re doing civic duty, to get threatened.”
It seemed a normal afternoon as she walked along the 1000 block of South Main Avenue south of Aviation Road and north of Ammunition Road. It’s a stretch lined with low-rent strips malls home to a thrift shop, a taqueria, a barbecue joint, an employment agency, and a liquor store. Pink Hair had just been to a local gym to take a shower. “I’m living in my truck right now,” she explained. She was on her way “home” when she saw what she called “garbage.” There were crunched-up cans and empty beer bottles near a warehouse. “Well, they were like stomped-on and flattened and like empty cans and cigarette butts and empty cases of beer.”
The pink-haired woman conceded the items might have value to someone, “A lot of time you will see homeless people collecting cans and bottles and taking them to the recycle place.” But not her, “I wasn’t collecting cans and bottles, I don’t do that.”
Her testimony suggests she may also have had an inkling that the cans, bottles, and such weren’t considered trash by someone. She says she looked around as she approached the refuse, because she had seen a man in that area before. “And I didn’t see him. And I thought, Good, now’s a quick time to pick up the paper cups and cans and all the stuff.”
Why was she looking around?
“Because I have picked up after him before.”
“Bullshit,” defendant Pepper audibly muttered during Pink Hair’s testimony. The bailiff admonished him, but it didn’t prevent him from doing it several more times.
While she was being assaulted, she later testified, a man ran from the warehouse with his phone, “He said, I’m calling the police!” She said of her alleged assailant, “That’s when he took off.”
It was about 3 pm when Sheriff’s deputies responded.
The alleged victim said this was not the first time she had seen her attacker. “He chased me a couple times, but I was too fast. Even with a bum foot.”
A prosecutor asked how hard the man hit her. “He wasn’t punching that hard,” the witness desmonstrated. “It wasn’t like he was someone who was sober.”
Did she have any lingering injuries?
“Just a couple of black and blue marks, and they went away.”
The witness identified the defendant in the courtroom as her attacker, “He got his hair cut, he looks a million times better. He looked like a bum, I mean a real bum. He got his beard done, he looks like a gentleman today.”
Even though he was cleaned up, she insisted, “I recognize him.”
Judge Timothy Casserly denied a defense request to reduce the felony charge to a misdemeanor. The judge also declared Pepper in violation of probation on four prior cases, all misdemeanors: lodge without consent, resisting an officer, assault on a peace officer, and public intoxication or disorderly conduct.
Pepper is next due in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse on July 9 to confirm a date for trial.