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Oceanside grandma comes home from San Felipe, gets beat up and tortured

Assailant caught on the RING doorbell camera

“The sun was out. It was nice. I think I was wearing shorts and a tank top. The drive home had been very nice."
“The sun was out. It was nice. I think I was wearing shorts and a tank top. The drive home had been very nice."

It took about five hours for Cindy and Ray to drive from their hacienda in San Felipe, Mexico, to their home in Oceanside. “The sun was out,” Cindy recalled that spring day in May 2018 when she testified a year later. “It was nice. I think I was wearing shorts and a tank top. The drive home had been very nice. Might have been a little bit on the warm side.”

Cindy was 64 then. She kept active and was in good shape and didn’t mind showing her legs. Cindy and Ray had married six years before, and they often enjoyed trips to their beach home overlooking the Sea of Cortez. That last trip, they were in Mexico perhaps ten days.

Ray parked his van in the back driveway. Their small home was on a street corner, on a big lot, and they had two driveways. The front driveway led to a tiny garage attached to the mid-1950s, single-story house. The back driveway led to a larger garage and their big back patio area.

First thing after they got home, Ray went around and opened up all the doors and windows to air out the house. Cindy got busy bringing things inside. “I always unload the perishables while he unloads the other stuff. And then our friend Larry came over, our neighbor. And I went inside and lay down to read and just relax.” The men visited out back. They had the music on.

Cindy lay down on her bed. She wanted to finish a book she had started while in Mexico. Later she guessed it was maybe 3 or 3:30 pm when she went to the master bedroom.

Cindy and Ray had married six years before, and they often enjoyed trips to their beach home overlooking the Gulf of California.

Ray and Cindy lived just one block from Interstate 5 in Oceanside. In front of their home was a dense bunch of pygmy date palms that had grown so thick it completely blocked the view of most of the front of their house. The front door and the whole front porch could hardly be seen at all. In contrast, the back yard area was plain to see; both gates were wide open there.

Cindy fell asleep. “Just kind of a light sleep, not dead-to-the-world asleep.”

It was the sound of the metal security door at the front of the house opening and closing that woke her. Cindy expected it was her husband. He must have come in to put things into the small garage. She called out, “Ray, is that you?”

Cindy was still lying down. She turned her head to look down the hall; there was a large mirror hanging at the end, situated so she could see the entryway in the reflection.

“I saw, like, a silhouette of someone large approaching the mirror.”

Ray and Cindy lived just one block from the 5 freeway in Oceanside, their home was near the ocean. In front of their home was a dense bunch of pygmy date palms, that tangle of plants had grown so thick it completely blocked the view of most of the front of their house. In fact the front door, and the whole front porch could hardly be seen at all.

The silhouette continued to walk toward the mirror, and his image became larger and clearer, until she could see his face “quite clearly.”

Cindy was confused. She thought to herself, “Who is this? What’s going on?”

She did not speak. “The look on his face was very smirkish.”

Cindy believed the stranger could see her, too, that he could see her reflection in the same mirror. She said, “He almost smiled, that was the look on his face.” When she spoke in court later, she said she could almost hear him thinking, “Look what we have here!”

And then, the man in the mirror “all of a sudden did a jump and a spin in the air and came directly into the bedroom and landed on the bed.”

Cindy testified in December 2019, more than a year after she was attacked. “He immediately pushed me down with his knee, his left knee in my chest. And put his hands on my throat and just started choking me.” She couldn’t breathe. It was painful.

She tried to yell “help” but could not. At first, her attacker did not say anything. Cindy tried to push him off, unsuccessfully.

In contrast to the front of Ray and Cindy's house, the back yard area was plain to see, both gates were wide open there.

Then the strange man started to demand, “Where are the gems? Where is the extra cash?” He was loud and angry. She later remembered thinking that was so odd, “Whoever says that?” He said gems, not jewels or jewelry. But she and Ray did not keep any valuable jewelry —or large amounts of cash — in their home.

The gutsy granny gasped, “What the hell? Are you crazy? Who has gems and cash just sitting around?” The stranger responded angrily. “But then he started shouting and shouting and shouting and getting angrier and louder.” He grabbed her throat again and squeezed harder than the first time.

Then she remembered an antique emerald ring she had inherited from her mother years ago, and Cindy made a gesture with one hand toward the guest room, where her grandchildren sometimes stayed. The valuable ring was in a little box in that guest room. The strange man quickly left for that room.

She could hear the wood floor creak while he was in the guestroom. For the short time he was gone, she gasped to catch her breath.

He came back angry. “Really really angry and really shouting.” He again demanded gems and cash.

When he came back, he straddled her and choked her again. He had one strong leg on each side of her ribs, and he was squeezing, “I mean, I wondered if I was going to die from broken ribs, puncturing my ribs, or strangulation first.”

Cindy was wearing an inexpensive necklace, it was her favorite and the one she wore most often, it had a fine chain holding a slender pendant in the shape of a lotus blossom. But the violent man was not interested in that necklace.

While he was choking her and squeezing her ribs, he said, “I have eyes!” And he pointed at his own eyes. “I have eyes! I can see that you’re rich! And rich people save! They invest! They save! They stash! They save jewelry! They save cash because they never know when they’re going to have a rainy day!”

The angry grandmother choked out, “Oh! And this is my rainy day?” And the man smirked at her and said, “Yeah!”

And then her attacker reached out and touched the rings she wore on her left hand. He tried to remove her wedding rings, but they were on tight and did not come off.

Cindy was wearing an inexpensive necklace, it was her favorite and the one she wore most often, it had a fine chain holding a slender pendant in the shape of a lotus blossom. But the violent man was not interested in that necklace.

Then the man told her, “Your husband, he’s already dead! What a damn fool! By his own belt in fact! Don’t you be a fool!” And he beat on her.

She tried to fight him with her arms and fists, and he struck back at her with his fists. “And then he just did like a kind of a half roll and dragged me off the bed onto the floor.” Cindy described it as some kind of wrestling move.

He broke her nose. He struck her in the mouth, “I had loose teeth. I had lacerated lips.” He continued breaking her ribs, and he beat her head against the wooden floor, or maybe it was against the bed frame. She wasn’t sure when she tried to remember later.

Cindy believed that he strangled her for maybe five or ten minutes, then she blacked out. “Everything just went black for I don’t know how long. It felt like a long time.” She guessed she was unconscious five to ten minutes.

When cops spoke with Dion Kavis Knight on May 30, 2018, he admitted that he was in Oceanside the day of the assault. And yes he was using a red bicycle then.

When she became aware again, he had left.“I suddenly realized that as crunched up as I was on the floor, I could breathe. And I thought that I was dying prior to that. But all of a sudden I realized I could breathe. But I didn’t know where he was. I was like, ‘Am I safe now, or what? Am I alive?’

“I could only see right in front of me, the dresser right in front of me.”

Cindy could hear the floorboards creaking to her left, and she knew he was over there. But she couldn’t see him. Later she learned that she had suffered a stroke during the attack, and that resulted in a hole in her vision, on the left side.

Cindy began to wish she could get onto her bed. “I lay there for a while thinking about, ‘I just want to get up on the bed. I’ll be okay if I can get on the bed!’” But she could still hear him over there, so she lay still for a few minutes, maybe it was five minutes, she guessed.

“And then, finally, I heard the boards creaking out by the living room and the door open and shut. So then I pulled myself up on the dresser and lay down on the bed.”

Cindy was in hospital two weeks. She got stitches in her lips, to put her mouth back together. Her neurologist immediately informed her that she could no longer drive, and Cindy had to hand over her drivers license. “I can’t drive at all, I’ve been told.”

She could see blood on the wooden floor and on the throw rug there next to the bed. And there was her lotus blossom pendant, her favorite necklace, on the floor. After a while, she realized that must be her blood. “So then that’s when I got up and just kind of wobbled out to the backyard.”

She could see her husband Ray and neighbor Larry, the men were still in the backyard. Their music was loud. “They turned around and looked at me with horror in their eyes,” Cindy remembered. The men rushed to her and asked what happened? Did she fall?

It was hard to speak, but finally, Cindy choked out, “No, there was a bad man in there.” Both men brought out their phones and dialed 911. While they were on the phone with emergency dispatch, they wanted Cindy to describe her attacker. She was only able to say: “Big, tall, black, very angry.” Cindy guessed his age as between 30 and 40.

An ambulance came. Cindy remained on the back patio. A male cop and a female cop asked her questions. The paramedics discussed her apparent injuries and decided she needed a brain trauma specialist. She was later admitted into the traumatic brain injury unit. She said, “From the stroke.... It has affected my balance, my coordination, extremely.” Her walk is wobbly, “Like I’ve been drinking.”

Cindy and Ray have made more trips to their beach house in Baja since the incident. Cindy was pleased to find that she is still able to swim.

Cindy was in hospital two weeks. She got stitches in her lips, to put her mouth back together.

Her neurologist immediately informed her that she could no longer drive, and Cindy had to hand over her driver’s license. “I can’t drive at all, I’ve been told.”

She’d had the same job for 19 years, as manager of a dental office. “I lost my job.”

She did five months of physical therapy. She takes medications and sees a spine specialist now. Cindy expects to have spinal surgery some time in future.

She is not fully recovered. Life is different. “I’m not comfortable with stairs. I’m not comfortable with dark. I’m not comfortable with people around me, things around me.”

After she got home from the hospital, she found her emerald ring. It was a comfort to still have this memento of her mother.

While Cindy was still in the hospital, Oceanside police detective Ryan Malone came to show her some mug shots. Cindy said she tried to concentrate, looking at the mug shots, “Five or six of them. Looked pretty much all the same guy.” She finally pointed to one photo, she decided his nose was most like her attacker’s.

She guessed her attacker was 6 foot 3 inches tall, maybe he weighed 160 to 180 pounds.

Cindy described her attacker many times, to many different persons. She complained later, “I felt like I told it ten times!”

Eventually, Cindy was able to see still photos and video from a neighbor’s RING doorbell video. She couldn’t remember who showed her those images, maybe it was a cop. The images showed a man approaching a neighbor’s front door. In some pictures, Cindy could clearly see his profile. “And he’s almost got that smile in one of the pictures, that smirk smile.” She said that “absolutely” it was the image of the man who attacked her.

Oceanside police detective Ryan Malone testified that he showed the victim, while she was in hospital, still photos taken from RING video evidence. “She said that she was 100 percent sure that was her attacker.”

Police interviewed neighbors; there were several who reported seeing a man wearing a backpack riding a red-framed BMX bicycle. At one point, that bicycle was in front of one home with a RING doorbell. Detective Malone testified that any time the RING camera senses movement, it records.

Another neighbor said he was working in his front yard that day about 4 pm, and he noticed somebody going around on a red bike. He described the man as dark complexioned, maybe Hispanic, about 5 foot 6 inches and 130 pounds.

It was a year later when Cindy first came to the courthouse. She wanted to see the suspect appear in court. She was able to see the man while he stood in a clear plastic booth, and she recognized him. She heard him speak to the judge, and she recognized his voice.

The suspect who was arraigned was Dion Kavis Knight. He is described in jail records as 5 feet 9 inches tall and 160 pounds. Knight was 20 years old in May 2018, at the time of the attack, 21 when Cindy saw him in court more than a year later in June 2019

It was December 2019 when Cindy testified at a pre-trial hearing. At that time, Knight was seated at the defense table, and she again identified him as her attacker.

During the pre-trial hearing, Cindy was questioned for hours by attorneys for both sides. Sometimes she struggled to remember. At one point she blurted out, “I don’t even want to deal with this! I want it to go away! I’m trying to be cooperative! And I’m trying to do the best that I can!”

Cindy’s husband Ray gave testimony at the same pre-trial hearing. Ray said they got home from Mexico that Wednesday about 2 or 2:30 pm, and, first thing, he opened up his home, “to let it air out.” This because the house had been closed up for ten days while they were in Mexico.

He and Cindy had been home about two hours when his friend and neighbor Larry came over. The men stayed out back and visited for about a half hour, and then his wife appeared. “She came out of the house all bloody.”

He and Larry jumped up. “Well, I was pretty much in shock!” Ray testified. “Here’s my wife! Hanging on to the sliding door! Bloody from her forehead, nose, and down onto her shirt! And I asked, what the hell happened?”

He first imagined that his wife must have fallen and hit her head against the pool table.

But his wife could barely speak, it took a while for her to choke it out. “She said a bad man came in the house.” Cindy said the man was black and Mexican, so Ray communicated that to the 911 operator.

While Ray was on the phone with police dispatch, his friend Larry ran through the house and jumped in his car and went driving around looking for the attacker. Ray said, “I stayed with my wife.”

After cops and paramedics arrived, Ray went into the house, cops wanted him to look around and point out anything that might be missing. First Ray saw that the master bedroom was all messed up, and he saw blood, and he saw that closet doors had been opened.

When Ray looked in the closets, he saw large coffee cans that had been filled with coins still there, they were on the top shelf and pushed to the back. It wasn’t until later that Ray discovered those coffee cans had been emptied of coins.

Ray later confirmed to investigators that they commonly kept Mexican pesos, in paper money, on top of a dresser in their home.

While he was in the witness box, Ray admitted that he was rude to the cops in his home. “By the time I got to the master bedroom, after talking to a couple police officers outside, there were nine policemen in my bedroom. And I asked them to leave. Because, I told them, ‘You are messing up any evidence!’”

Ray told the judge “It might be on the record I wasn’t very nice.”

While some cops were inside the house with Ray, two cops stayed outside with his wife. They asked her over and over, ‘Did your husband do this to you?’”

Ray said that after the attack, his wife could barely speak for a week. After two months, he drove his wife to a dentist, because they were both afraid she would lose her two front teeth. Her ability to walk remains poor.

Ray said that Cindy still needs more surgeries, especially for the cracked vertebrae in her back.

Detective Ryan Malone was aware that North County Transit District has excellent camera surveillance systems. The district reviewed their footage from that day, May 9, 2018, and found video of someone who matched the suspect’s description. Those cameras were in downtown Oceanside, off Tremont Street, maybe two miles from the victim’s home.

While the suspect was waiting on a bench, he drank the last blue liquid from a plastic Powerade bottle, and then threw it, and other trash, into a drainage ditch next to the train tracks before he got onto the train to Escondido.

Investigators collected the trash the suspect had thrown away and after some time, they identified the Knight’s DNA on the Powerade bottle. But before the DNA results came back, a cop in Escondido arrested Knight for outstanding warrants regarding other matters. That was four days after the attack, on May 12, 2018. Escondido police officer David Bishop used his bodycam while he searched Knight, who had lots of coins and a paper 50 Peso note on him.

Knight was soon booked into custody in a Los Angeles jail. When Oceanside police learned of their DNA match, they traveled to interview Knight in the Los Angeles jail, and get a fresh DNA swab. That was on May 30, 2018.

When cops spoke with Knight that day, he admitted that he was in Oceanside the day of the assault. And yes he was using a red bicycle then. Detective Malone said he showed Knight photos from the RING video, and Knight admitted that was him.

But he insisted that he did not assault any woman. “He claimed that it was somebody else, that it was a guy named Chris,” detective Malone testified. “He said somebody that looked like him, but not him.” Knight told cops he was hanging out underneath an Interstate 5 overpass, and this Chris person told him, ‘Hey I’m going to go do my shit.’ The detective said, “I asked him what that meant. He says he knows that to mean he’s going to go commit a robbery or maybe even a murder.... And so Chris asks Mr. Knight for some of his stuff. Mr. Knight gives him his bike, his jacket, I believe a pair of gloves, and his hat,” the detective testified. “About 20 minutes later, Chris comes back all sweaty and excited and tells everyone to leave because police are coming.” According to Kinght’s story, Chris dug out loose change from his backpack, and he distributed that change to everyone there, and Knight got a hundred dollars in loose change. Then Knight got on his red bike and went to the train station.

Detective Ryan Malone interviewed Knight again on September 12, 2018. At that time, Knight was in state prison on other charges out of Orange County. Oceanside cops showed Knight the RING video, plus video from North County Transit District, and Knight admitted that was him.

Knight was born in 1998. He has spent most of his adult life in custody. The year Knight turned 18, he appeared in San Diego County criminal records when he pleaded guilty to felony car theft. The December 2016 paperwork noted that his DNA was already on file, which suggests Knight might have a juvenile record somewhere.

Knight was held in local custody about six weeks, then he was released on probation. He was in and out of custody on warrants and probation violations, from multiple counties.

In March 2018, Knight was arrested by Las Vegas Metro police for an unknown offense. He was 19.

Two months after his arrest in Las Vegas, on May 8, 2018, Knight was in custody in Orange County, according to notes in his criminal file. He must have been released that day or the next, if he was in Oceanside the next day, May 9, 2018, when Cindy was attacked. At that time, Knight had just turned 20 years old.

Three days after Cindy was assaulted, on May 12, 2018, court paperwork noted that Knight was serving a California Department of Corrections prison sentence for an Orange County case. That paperwork noted that Knight was not due for parole for two more years, until August of 2020.

A year later, he was sent to a California prison. Paperwork in Knight’s file showed he was being considered for early release on parole. This note was dated May 23, 2019 and he had recently turned 21 years old.

On June 25, 2019, suspect Knight was booked into the Vista jail, next door to San Diego’s North County Superior courthouse. He has been held without bail since this date.

The day after he was booked into custody in San Diego County, Knight was brought into court. He is charged with five felonies: attempted murder, robbery, first degree burglary, assault, and torture.

Cindy and Ray testified at a preliminary hearing on December 4, 2019. On that day, defense attorney Will Rumble emphasized the differences in description given by the witnesses.

Judge William Wood heard a full day of evidence, and then ordered Knight to answer charges at trial. Knight pleads not guilty to all of them.

Cindy is now 67. She and Ray have made more trips to their beach house in Baja since the incident. Cindy was pleased to find that, despite her injuries, she is still able to swim in the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez.

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“The sun was out. It was nice. I think I was wearing shorts and a tank top. The drive home had been very nice."
“The sun was out. It was nice. I think I was wearing shorts and a tank top. The drive home had been very nice."

It took about five hours for Cindy and Ray to drive from their hacienda in San Felipe, Mexico, to their home in Oceanside. “The sun was out,” Cindy recalled that spring day in May 2018 when she testified a year later. “It was nice. I think I was wearing shorts and a tank top. The drive home had been very nice. Might have been a little bit on the warm side.”

Cindy was 64 then. She kept active and was in good shape and didn’t mind showing her legs. Cindy and Ray had married six years before, and they often enjoyed trips to their beach home overlooking the Sea of Cortez. That last trip, they were in Mexico perhaps ten days.

Ray parked his van in the back driveway. Their small home was on a street corner, on a big lot, and they had two driveways. The front driveway led to a tiny garage attached to the mid-1950s, single-story house. The back driveway led to a larger garage and their big back patio area.

First thing after they got home, Ray went around and opened up all the doors and windows to air out the house. Cindy got busy bringing things inside. “I always unload the perishables while he unloads the other stuff. And then our friend Larry came over, our neighbor. And I went inside and lay down to read and just relax.” The men visited out back. They had the music on.

Cindy lay down on her bed. She wanted to finish a book she had started while in Mexico. Later she guessed it was maybe 3 or 3:30 pm when she went to the master bedroom.

Cindy and Ray had married six years before, and they often enjoyed trips to their beach home overlooking the Gulf of California.

Ray and Cindy lived just one block from Interstate 5 in Oceanside. In front of their home was a dense bunch of pygmy date palms that had grown so thick it completely blocked the view of most of the front of their house. The front door and the whole front porch could hardly be seen at all. In contrast, the back yard area was plain to see; both gates were wide open there.

Cindy fell asleep. “Just kind of a light sleep, not dead-to-the-world asleep.”

It was the sound of the metal security door at the front of the house opening and closing that woke her. Cindy expected it was her husband. He must have come in to put things into the small garage. She called out, “Ray, is that you?”

Cindy was still lying down. She turned her head to look down the hall; there was a large mirror hanging at the end, situated so she could see the entryway in the reflection.

“I saw, like, a silhouette of someone large approaching the mirror.”

Ray and Cindy lived just one block from the 5 freeway in Oceanside, their home was near the ocean. In front of their home was a dense bunch of pygmy date palms, that tangle of plants had grown so thick it completely blocked the view of most of the front of their house. In fact the front door, and the whole front porch could hardly be seen at all.

The silhouette continued to walk toward the mirror, and his image became larger and clearer, until she could see his face “quite clearly.”

Cindy was confused. She thought to herself, “Who is this? What’s going on?”

She did not speak. “The look on his face was very smirkish.”

Cindy believed the stranger could see her, too, that he could see her reflection in the same mirror. She said, “He almost smiled, that was the look on his face.” When she spoke in court later, she said she could almost hear him thinking, “Look what we have here!”

And then, the man in the mirror “all of a sudden did a jump and a spin in the air and came directly into the bedroom and landed on the bed.”

Cindy testified in December 2019, more than a year after she was attacked. “He immediately pushed me down with his knee, his left knee in my chest. And put his hands on my throat and just started choking me.” She couldn’t breathe. It was painful.

She tried to yell “help” but could not. At first, her attacker did not say anything. Cindy tried to push him off, unsuccessfully.

In contrast to the front of Ray and Cindy's house, the back yard area was plain to see, both gates were wide open there.

Then the strange man started to demand, “Where are the gems? Where is the extra cash?” He was loud and angry. She later remembered thinking that was so odd, “Whoever says that?” He said gems, not jewels or jewelry. But she and Ray did not keep any valuable jewelry —or large amounts of cash — in their home.

The gutsy granny gasped, “What the hell? Are you crazy? Who has gems and cash just sitting around?” The stranger responded angrily. “But then he started shouting and shouting and shouting and getting angrier and louder.” He grabbed her throat again and squeezed harder than the first time.

Then she remembered an antique emerald ring she had inherited from her mother years ago, and Cindy made a gesture with one hand toward the guest room, where her grandchildren sometimes stayed. The valuable ring was in a little box in that guest room. The strange man quickly left for that room.

She could hear the wood floor creak while he was in the guestroom. For the short time he was gone, she gasped to catch her breath.

He came back angry. “Really really angry and really shouting.” He again demanded gems and cash.

When he came back, he straddled her and choked her again. He had one strong leg on each side of her ribs, and he was squeezing, “I mean, I wondered if I was going to die from broken ribs, puncturing my ribs, or strangulation first.”

Cindy was wearing an inexpensive necklace, it was her favorite and the one she wore most often, it had a fine chain holding a slender pendant in the shape of a lotus blossom. But the violent man was not interested in that necklace.

While he was choking her and squeezing her ribs, he said, “I have eyes!” And he pointed at his own eyes. “I have eyes! I can see that you’re rich! And rich people save! They invest! They save! They stash! They save jewelry! They save cash because they never know when they’re going to have a rainy day!”

The angry grandmother choked out, “Oh! And this is my rainy day?” And the man smirked at her and said, “Yeah!”

And then her attacker reached out and touched the rings she wore on her left hand. He tried to remove her wedding rings, but they were on tight and did not come off.

Cindy was wearing an inexpensive necklace, it was her favorite and the one she wore most often, it had a fine chain holding a slender pendant in the shape of a lotus blossom. But the violent man was not interested in that necklace.

Then the man told her, “Your husband, he’s already dead! What a damn fool! By his own belt in fact! Don’t you be a fool!” And he beat on her.

She tried to fight him with her arms and fists, and he struck back at her with his fists. “And then he just did like a kind of a half roll and dragged me off the bed onto the floor.” Cindy described it as some kind of wrestling move.

He broke her nose. He struck her in the mouth, “I had loose teeth. I had lacerated lips.” He continued breaking her ribs, and he beat her head against the wooden floor, or maybe it was against the bed frame. She wasn’t sure when she tried to remember later.

Cindy believed that he strangled her for maybe five or ten minutes, then she blacked out. “Everything just went black for I don’t know how long. It felt like a long time.” She guessed she was unconscious five to ten minutes.

When cops spoke with Dion Kavis Knight on May 30, 2018, he admitted that he was in Oceanside the day of the assault. And yes he was using a red bicycle then.

When she became aware again, he had left.“I suddenly realized that as crunched up as I was on the floor, I could breathe. And I thought that I was dying prior to that. But all of a sudden I realized I could breathe. But I didn’t know where he was. I was like, ‘Am I safe now, or what? Am I alive?’

“I could only see right in front of me, the dresser right in front of me.”

Cindy could hear the floorboards creaking to her left, and she knew he was over there. But she couldn’t see him. Later she learned that she had suffered a stroke during the attack, and that resulted in a hole in her vision, on the left side.

Cindy began to wish she could get onto her bed. “I lay there for a while thinking about, ‘I just want to get up on the bed. I’ll be okay if I can get on the bed!’” But she could still hear him over there, so she lay still for a few minutes, maybe it was five minutes, she guessed.

“And then, finally, I heard the boards creaking out by the living room and the door open and shut. So then I pulled myself up on the dresser and lay down on the bed.”

Cindy was in hospital two weeks. She got stitches in her lips, to put her mouth back together. Her neurologist immediately informed her that she could no longer drive, and Cindy had to hand over her drivers license. “I can’t drive at all, I’ve been told.”

She could see blood on the wooden floor and on the throw rug there next to the bed. And there was her lotus blossom pendant, her favorite necklace, on the floor. After a while, she realized that must be her blood. “So then that’s when I got up and just kind of wobbled out to the backyard.”

She could see her husband Ray and neighbor Larry, the men were still in the backyard. Their music was loud. “They turned around and looked at me with horror in their eyes,” Cindy remembered. The men rushed to her and asked what happened? Did she fall?

It was hard to speak, but finally, Cindy choked out, “No, there was a bad man in there.” Both men brought out their phones and dialed 911. While they were on the phone with emergency dispatch, they wanted Cindy to describe her attacker. She was only able to say: “Big, tall, black, very angry.” Cindy guessed his age as between 30 and 40.

An ambulance came. Cindy remained on the back patio. A male cop and a female cop asked her questions. The paramedics discussed her apparent injuries and decided she needed a brain trauma specialist. She was later admitted into the traumatic brain injury unit. She said, “From the stroke.... It has affected my balance, my coordination, extremely.” Her walk is wobbly, “Like I’ve been drinking.”

Cindy and Ray have made more trips to their beach house in Baja since the incident. Cindy was pleased to find that she is still able to swim.

Cindy was in hospital two weeks. She got stitches in her lips, to put her mouth back together.

Her neurologist immediately informed her that she could no longer drive, and Cindy had to hand over her driver’s license. “I can’t drive at all, I’ve been told.”

She’d had the same job for 19 years, as manager of a dental office. “I lost my job.”

She did five months of physical therapy. She takes medications and sees a spine specialist now. Cindy expects to have spinal surgery some time in future.

She is not fully recovered. Life is different. “I’m not comfortable with stairs. I’m not comfortable with dark. I’m not comfortable with people around me, things around me.”

After she got home from the hospital, she found her emerald ring. It was a comfort to still have this memento of her mother.

While Cindy was still in the hospital, Oceanside police detective Ryan Malone came to show her some mug shots. Cindy said she tried to concentrate, looking at the mug shots, “Five or six of them. Looked pretty much all the same guy.” She finally pointed to one photo, she decided his nose was most like her attacker’s.

She guessed her attacker was 6 foot 3 inches tall, maybe he weighed 160 to 180 pounds.

Cindy described her attacker many times, to many different persons. She complained later, “I felt like I told it ten times!”

Eventually, Cindy was able to see still photos and video from a neighbor’s RING doorbell video. She couldn’t remember who showed her those images, maybe it was a cop. The images showed a man approaching a neighbor’s front door. In some pictures, Cindy could clearly see his profile. “And he’s almost got that smile in one of the pictures, that smirk smile.” She said that “absolutely” it was the image of the man who attacked her.

Oceanside police detective Ryan Malone testified that he showed the victim, while she was in hospital, still photos taken from RING video evidence. “She said that she was 100 percent sure that was her attacker.”

Police interviewed neighbors; there were several who reported seeing a man wearing a backpack riding a red-framed BMX bicycle. At one point, that bicycle was in front of one home with a RING doorbell. Detective Malone testified that any time the RING camera senses movement, it records.

Another neighbor said he was working in his front yard that day about 4 pm, and he noticed somebody going around on a red bike. He described the man as dark complexioned, maybe Hispanic, about 5 foot 6 inches and 130 pounds.

It was a year later when Cindy first came to the courthouse. She wanted to see the suspect appear in court. She was able to see the man while he stood in a clear plastic booth, and she recognized him. She heard him speak to the judge, and she recognized his voice.

The suspect who was arraigned was Dion Kavis Knight. He is described in jail records as 5 feet 9 inches tall and 160 pounds. Knight was 20 years old in May 2018, at the time of the attack, 21 when Cindy saw him in court more than a year later in June 2019

It was December 2019 when Cindy testified at a pre-trial hearing. At that time, Knight was seated at the defense table, and she again identified him as her attacker.

During the pre-trial hearing, Cindy was questioned for hours by attorneys for both sides. Sometimes she struggled to remember. At one point she blurted out, “I don’t even want to deal with this! I want it to go away! I’m trying to be cooperative! And I’m trying to do the best that I can!”

Cindy’s husband Ray gave testimony at the same pre-trial hearing. Ray said they got home from Mexico that Wednesday about 2 or 2:30 pm, and, first thing, he opened up his home, “to let it air out.” This because the house had been closed up for ten days while they were in Mexico.

He and Cindy had been home about two hours when his friend and neighbor Larry came over. The men stayed out back and visited for about a half hour, and then his wife appeared. “She came out of the house all bloody.”

He and Larry jumped up. “Well, I was pretty much in shock!” Ray testified. “Here’s my wife! Hanging on to the sliding door! Bloody from her forehead, nose, and down onto her shirt! And I asked, what the hell happened?”

He first imagined that his wife must have fallen and hit her head against the pool table.

But his wife could barely speak, it took a while for her to choke it out. “She said a bad man came in the house.” Cindy said the man was black and Mexican, so Ray communicated that to the 911 operator.

While Ray was on the phone with police dispatch, his friend Larry ran through the house and jumped in his car and went driving around looking for the attacker. Ray said, “I stayed with my wife.”

After cops and paramedics arrived, Ray went into the house, cops wanted him to look around and point out anything that might be missing. First Ray saw that the master bedroom was all messed up, and he saw blood, and he saw that closet doors had been opened.

When Ray looked in the closets, he saw large coffee cans that had been filled with coins still there, they were on the top shelf and pushed to the back. It wasn’t until later that Ray discovered those coffee cans had been emptied of coins.

Ray later confirmed to investigators that they commonly kept Mexican pesos, in paper money, on top of a dresser in their home.

While he was in the witness box, Ray admitted that he was rude to the cops in his home. “By the time I got to the master bedroom, after talking to a couple police officers outside, there were nine policemen in my bedroom. And I asked them to leave. Because, I told them, ‘You are messing up any evidence!’”

Ray told the judge “It might be on the record I wasn’t very nice.”

While some cops were inside the house with Ray, two cops stayed outside with his wife. They asked her over and over, ‘Did your husband do this to you?’”

Ray said that after the attack, his wife could barely speak for a week. After two months, he drove his wife to a dentist, because they were both afraid she would lose her two front teeth. Her ability to walk remains poor.

Ray said that Cindy still needs more surgeries, especially for the cracked vertebrae in her back.

Detective Ryan Malone was aware that North County Transit District has excellent camera surveillance systems. The district reviewed their footage from that day, May 9, 2018, and found video of someone who matched the suspect’s description. Those cameras were in downtown Oceanside, off Tremont Street, maybe two miles from the victim’s home.

While the suspect was waiting on a bench, he drank the last blue liquid from a plastic Powerade bottle, and then threw it, and other trash, into a drainage ditch next to the train tracks before he got onto the train to Escondido.

Investigators collected the trash the suspect had thrown away and after some time, they identified the Knight’s DNA on the Powerade bottle. But before the DNA results came back, a cop in Escondido arrested Knight for outstanding warrants regarding other matters. That was four days after the attack, on May 12, 2018. Escondido police officer David Bishop used his bodycam while he searched Knight, who had lots of coins and a paper 50 Peso note on him.

Knight was soon booked into custody in a Los Angeles jail. When Oceanside police learned of their DNA match, they traveled to interview Knight in the Los Angeles jail, and get a fresh DNA swab. That was on May 30, 2018.

When cops spoke with Knight that day, he admitted that he was in Oceanside the day of the assault. And yes he was using a red bicycle then. Detective Malone said he showed Knight photos from the RING video, and Knight admitted that was him.

But he insisted that he did not assault any woman. “He claimed that it was somebody else, that it was a guy named Chris,” detective Malone testified. “He said somebody that looked like him, but not him.” Knight told cops he was hanging out underneath an Interstate 5 overpass, and this Chris person told him, ‘Hey I’m going to go do my shit.’ The detective said, “I asked him what that meant. He says he knows that to mean he’s going to go commit a robbery or maybe even a murder.... And so Chris asks Mr. Knight for some of his stuff. Mr. Knight gives him his bike, his jacket, I believe a pair of gloves, and his hat,” the detective testified. “About 20 minutes later, Chris comes back all sweaty and excited and tells everyone to leave because police are coming.” According to Kinght’s story, Chris dug out loose change from his backpack, and he distributed that change to everyone there, and Knight got a hundred dollars in loose change. Then Knight got on his red bike and went to the train station.

Detective Ryan Malone interviewed Knight again on September 12, 2018. At that time, Knight was in state prison on other charges out of Orange County. Oceanside cops showed Knight the RING video, plus video from North County Transit District, and Knight admitted that was him.

Knight was born in 1998. He has spent most of his adult life in custody. The year Knight turned 18, he appeared in San Diego County criminal records when he pleaded guilty to felony car theft. The December 2016 paperwork noted that his DNA was already on file, which suggests Knight might have a juvenile record somewhere.

Knight was held in local custody about six weeks, then he was released on probation. He was in and out of custody on warrants and probation violations, from multiple counties.

In March 2018, Knight was arrested by Las Vegas Metro police for an unknown offense. He was 19.

Two months after his arrest in Las Vegas, on May 8, 2018, Knight was in custody in Orange County, according to notes in his criminal file. He must have been released that day or the next, if he was in Oceanside the next day, May 9, 2018, when Cindy was attacked. At that time, Knight had just turned 20 years old.

Three days after Cindy was assaulted, on May 12, 2018, court paperwork noted that Knight was serving a California Department of Corrections prison sentence for an Orange County case. That paperwork noted that Knight was not due for parole for two more years, until August of 2020.

A year later, he was sent to a California prison. Paperwork in Knight’s file showed he was being considered for early release on parole. This note was dated May 23, 2019 and he had recently turned 21 years old.

On June 25, 2019, suspect Knight was booked into the Vista jail, next door to San Diego’s North County Superior courthouse. He has been held without bail since this date.

The day after he was booked into custody in San Diego County, Knight was brought into court. He is charged with five felonies: attempted murder, robbery, first degree burglary, assault, and torture.

Cindy and Ray testified at a preliminary hearing on December 4, 2019. On that day, defense attorney Will Rumble emphasized the differences in description given by the witnesses.

Judge William Wood heard a full day of evidence, and then ordered Knight to answer charges at trial. Knight pleads not guilty to all of them.

Cindy is now 67. She and Ray have made more trips to their beach house in Baja since the incident. Cindy was pleased to find that, despite her injuries, she is still able to swim in the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez.

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7

Dion Kavis Knight, now 23, pleads not guilty to all charges. He is next expected in San Diego's North County Superior Courthouse in Vista, California, on Monday, April 26, 2021.

April 21, 2021

Who is this 'neurologist' ? To what he was demanding of Cindy "to hand over" her driver's license, why did the neurologist not additionally have the Department of Motor Vehicles REVOKE IT. As the being the CORRECT way; as how Department of Motor Vehicles has done it to another in pasttime, when society times were more conservative.

April 21, 2021

It's nice to read that she's still able to swim in the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez. What a horrible story. A career criminal in the making.... he's looking at the death penalty one day. And he won't be missed.

April 21, 2021
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April 22, 2021

Dion Kavis Knight appeared by video monitor today, for a 15 minute court hearing. He is currently on a no-bail hold, and Honorable judge David Berry set a date of May 5 to hear argument to set bail. The May 5 hearing will probably be another remote-video-court appearance. If Knight is convicted of all charges, he could be sentenced to Life in prison. The trial date was set for May 26.

April 26, 2021

There was a bail review for Dion Kavis Knight today, May 5, 2021. The defense attorney said the judge should release Knight on his own recognizance, and Knight can live with his brother in Los Angeles, and Knight looks forward to a jury publicly proclaiming his innocence. The defense attorney also quoted from the CDC, declaring that people in custody are at greater risk for illnesses such as COVID 19, and that risks are greater for black and Hispanic persons, so keeping an African American in jail creates a greater likelihood of infection, hospitalization and death from COVID 19. Prosecutor David Uyar then described a list of violent offenses allegedly committed by Dion Kavis Knight, sometimes within hours of being released from custody, in different counties in California. Knight reportedly committed two more violent offenses even while in his current custody in San Diego County. (Defense attorney response: “The alleged sexual assault was a consentual sexual encounter as often happens in jail.”) The prosecutor also declared that Knight’s brother has his own criminal history, and they were arrested together with a stolen vehicle in December 2016. Honorable judge Brad Weinreb declined to release the defendant, and continued his no-bail hold, and confirmed a trial date of May 26, 2021.

May 5, 2021

Honorable judge Brad Weinreb and prosecutor David Uyar.

May 5, 2021

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