Trial ordered for man accused in Ramona hatchet attack

EL CAJON, Calif. - A man who took a hatchet to a stranger's home, and then tied to axe his neighbor and a vehicle in Ramona, must stand trial on assault and other charges, a judge ruled Monday.

Devin Michael Jones, 23, pleaded not guilty Oct. 28 to charges of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, as well as vandalism, trying to dissuade a witness from reporting a crime and a misdemeanor count of being under the influence of a controlled substance, said Deputy District Attorney Matthew Carberry. The drug was most likely methamphetamine, he said.

After a morning preliminary hearing Monday, Judge Herbert Exarhos found that enough evidence was presented to order Jones to stand trial. The judge reduced one of the assault charges to a misdemeanor count of brandishing a weapon.

The non-injury fracas began in the 600 block of B Street in Ramona at about 6 a.m. Oct. 24, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

A resident went outside to investigate what sounded like someone pounding on the outside of his house and was confronted by a combative man he didn't know. An argument ensued, prompting a neighbor to threaten to call 911 if the disturbance continued, sheriff's Sgt. Kurt Torsak said after the attack.
 
The aggressor responded by charging him, clutching a hatchet, the sergeant said.

The victim fled, got into his truck and locked it as the assailant whacked on the driver's side door and shouted profanities for a time. He then ran off, Torsak said.

Deputies sealed off the area and searched it, eventually finding and arresting the suspect, who was identified as Jones, according to Torsak.

Investigators later learned an air-conditioning unit, exterior wall and garage door at the home of the person who was initially targeted had been smashed up.

"The damage appeared to have been caused by a hatchet," the sergeant said.

Exarhos scheduled a readiness conference for Dec. 30 and trial for Jan. 21.

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