Santa Ana beating suspect pleads not guilty; family speaks out

EMBED </>More Videos

A transient man accused of brutally beating an 82-year-old man in Santa Ana pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015.

A transient man accused of brutally beating an 82-year-old man in Santa Ana pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday afternoon.

Demarrea Chante Barnes, 29, was appointed a public defender and entered his plea after surveillance video arose of 82-year-old Tuyen Nguyen being punched and kicked.

Nguyen was on his daily walk to get a newspaper and coffee at a restaurant in the 5000 block of West Edinger Avenue around 6:10 a.m. Friday, when he was attacked without warning in the parking lot.

Barnes was arrested the day after the incident.

The family of the suspect spoke to Eyewitness News and said Barnes has a history of being mentally unstable and they've asked the courts to help him for years.

"He suffers from mental illness, and he's been suffering from mental illness and has never got the proper treatment," said Shay Palmer, the suspect's cousin.

Prosecutors said they do not know Barnes' mental status but said he has a long criminal history, including three state prison priors for drug possession in 2005 and 2008, and assault on a peace officer with injury in 2012.

"This is not the Demarrea we know, not the one we raised, said Wilda Wright, the suspect's great aunt. "This is not him."

Meanwhile, Nguyen's family said doctors upgraded the victim's status to critical but stable condition and will release him to a nursing home soon.

"We send our deepest condolences," said Wright. "We just want to say we're sorry and we apologize and we pray that your grandfather gets better."

A pretrial is set for the morning of Oct. 7. If convicted, Barnes faces a maximum sentence of 13 years in state prison.

His bail was set at $100,000.

Related Topics:
arrestarraignmentattackbeatingsurveillance videocaught on cameraSanta AnaOrange County
(Copyright ©2017 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

Load Comments