Orange County sheriff's reserve sergeant's son to be tried as adult for beating father with hammer


John Kudla was arrested in the city of Terrace after authorities say he attacked his father with a hammer, as he slept in their Rancho Santa Margarita home.

The Orange County District Attorney's office says at approximately 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, Kudla grabbed a construction hammer from the kitchen, which was under renovation. He then walked upstairs to his father's bedroom and struck him in the head multiple times with that hammer.

Authorities say Kudla then got dressed, ate breakfast and told another family member in the house that his father was sick and would probably stay in bed all day. He then took his dad's wallet and keys and took his father's Volkswagen to school. Authorities say he later took some friends to a local McDonald's but did not return to school.

At about 9:30 a.m., officials say the other family member found the victim injured and bleeding. He was transported to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, where he remains comatose in critical condition.

A few hours later, a California Highway Patrol officer spotted the Volkswagen going northbound on the 5 Freeway in Los Angeles. Kudla was pulled over and taken into custody.

During the investigation, the hammer used in the attack was found rinsed off in a bathroom in the suspect's home.

The victim, 50-year-old Jon Kudla, is a reserve sergeant for the Orange County Sherriff's Department.

His son faces three felony counts each of attempted murder, aggravated assault, unlawful taking of a vehicle and a sentencing enhancement for causing brain injury and paralysis.

If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison. He is being held on $1 million bail and is scheduled to be arraigned June 14 in Newport Beach.

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