A jury of seven men and five women opted against finding Eric Hodges guilty of the attempted murder of his aunt and uncle.
Instead, they found him guilty of one count only of attempted voluntary manslaughter in the attack against his aunt, with a special allegation of having caused great bodily injury.
Hodges also was found not guilty of making a criminal threat in the case, which stemmed from a November 2012 incident in which he had allegedly attacked Brent and Susan Scott inside their Grass Valley residence with a hammer.
The jurors did not find true an allegation of premeditation and could not agree on whether Hodges had used a deadly weapon.
Prosecutors argued that Hodges attacked his relatives because Brent Scott was accusing his own father, Hodges’ grandfather, of molesting him as a child.
Hodges allegedly had hit his uncle in the back of the head several times with the claw end of the hammer, leaving him with lacerations to the face, head and arms. According to police, Hodges also hit his aunt several times in the face as she pleaded for him to stop and then threatened to kill her.
Her injuries included fractures to her face and broken bones in her hands, and left wrist.
Hodges testified that it was Brent Scott who attacked him, that any injuries sustained by Susan were caused when Brent swung at him and missed.
Similarly, Brent’s injuries were self-inflicted as Hodges attempted to defend himself, Hodges said during his two-week trial.
To find Hodges guilty of attempted homicide, jurors would have had to decide that he had gone to the Scotts’ residence with the intent of killing them.
Attempted voluntary manslaughter, on the other hand, would be the attempted killing of a person without malice, during a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.
Hodges faces a possible maximum term for the one count of five and a half years, with an additional three years for the great bodily injury enhancement.
“I believe a just result on the attempted-murder charges was reached,” said Hodges’ attorney, Larry Montgomery. “At least two life sentences are off the table.”
Montgomery said he believed the jury reached a correct verdict of not guilty of attempted homicide or premeditation, “given the evidence they had and the evidence they did not have,” referring to some physical evidence not recovered at the scene.
Montgomery said he did not want to comment on the one finding of guilt because he is considering Hodges’ options. Those options include letting the verdict stand, requesting a new trial on the one guilty count or filing an appeal, he said.
Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson said she was very pleased with the verdict.
“Obviously, the jury was very conscientious, and Hodges will be held accountable,” she said.
“This was a tough case,” Ferguson added. “Easy cases don’t go to trial.”
Hodges’ sentencing was set for 1:30 p.m. on June 2.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4229.
“This was a tough case. Easy cases don’t go to trial.”
County Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson