Suspect in vicious attack on San Marcos store clerk pleads not guilty

Posted at 7:16 PM, Oct 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-12 22:16:10-04

VISTA, Calif. - A man accused in the violent assault of a San Marcos convenience store clerk pleaded not guilty Wednesday in a Vista courtroom.

Frederick Cato faces charges of assault and battery causing great bodily harm in connection with the attack at a San Marcos Chevron gas station store.

In surveillance video from the incident, the clerk is seen taking several punches to the head, with a kick to the head as a final blow before the suspect leaves the store.

Deputy San Diego County District Attorney Jared Coleman spoke of a possible reason for the fit of rage, saying, "The victim made a comment or two to the defendant's girlfriend about her looks."

The surveillance video captured those moments, too, just before the attack.

"This appears to be an unprovoked, vicious assault on a 55-year-old store clerk who was just working at the Chevron station," Coleman said.

Cato is no stranger to courtrooms or prison, as he's served several years for a variety of crimes.

"The defendant has prior convictions for robbery, as well as several domestic violence-related convictions -- two of which are strike priors. This crime is a violent felony which makes his exposure 25 years to life," said Coleman.

Considering Cato a danger to the community, Judge James Mangione set bail at $1 million.

Cato's public defender related to the court that her client had asked about the victim's recovery from the beating.