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Woman attacked with hammer speaks out - Eyewitness News exclusive

December 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A woman who was viciously beaten with a hammer as she left her bank in Anaheim said she's shaken up, but recovering.

Arlean Cuevas, 58, is still in shock over the attack. The cuts and bruises on her face are reminders of the real-life nightmare, but she said it's the emotional scars that will take the most time to heal.

"I'm just so traumatized," Cuevas said in an exclusive interview with Eyewitness News. "I'm scared now, especially going to the bank and going to the store."

Cuevas was leaving the Chase Bank in the 500 block of North Euclid Street at about 4:15 p.m. Tuesday when she was suddenly beaten in the parking lot. With a week left before Christmas, Cuevas said she was at the bank getting cash to buy presents for her family. As she walked away from the ATM, a strange woman approached her and asked for money.

"So I told her, 'Ma'am, I don't have any money,' and she said, 'You just came from the bank,'" recalled Cuevas.

Cuevas told the woman that the money was for her family's presents. That's when things turned violent. The woman followed Cuevas as she walked to her car. Then out of nowhere, she pulled out a hammer, started beating Cuevas over the head and tried grabbing her purse. Cuevas yelled for help.

Bank customers and employees ran to Cuevas' aid, while others grabbed the suspect and held her until police arrived. Cuevas said the suspect was tall and well-dressed and didn't appear to be homeless.

But police said the suspect, later identified as 30-year-old Stacy Lesher, is a transient. She was charged with robbery and felony assault with a deadly weapon. The hammer was recovered at the scene.

Cuevas was taken to the hospital to be treated for her injuries. She required stitches on both sides of her face. Her oldest daughter, Kathy, got the call and rushed to be by her mother's side.

"It was just one of those things...you kind of think the worst, you don't know," Kathy Cuevas said.

She said she is relieved her mother is alive and that Christmas with their family will be even more meaningful this year.

"With everything else that's happening, you think to yourself, this could actually happen to anybody -- anything at anytime. My mom was just at the wrong place at the wrong time," she said.


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