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June 27, 2013
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Grass Valley man to answer on two counts of attempted murder with hammer

A Nevada County judge found sufficient evidence to hold a Grass Valley man to answer on two counts of attempted homicide in connection with a hammer attack on his aunt and uncle.

Eric Craig Hodges, 36, is also facing one count of making criminal threats after he allegedly went to the couple’s residence on Maiden Lane Nov. 30, 2012.

During a preliminary hearing into the evidence Thursday morning in Superior Court, Grass Valley Police Officer John Herrera testified that the female victim told him she was lying on the couch when Hodges came in and “started beating on her with a hammer.”

The woman told Herrera that Hodges hit her several times in the face with the hammer as she pleaded with him to stop, and that he told her he was going to kill her.

The male victim told Herrera he was lying in bed when he heard the commotion, and that Hodges attacked him with the hammer as he tried to call 911. Grass Valley Police Det. Zack LaFerriere testified that in a later interview, the man told him he came out of the bedroom to see Hodges attacking his wife, and that as he retreated to the bedroom to call for help, Hodges hit him in the back of the head several times with the claw end of the hammer.

The man told officers he was able to grab the hammer away from Hodges, who told him, “I was never here,” before leaving. He reportedly sustained lacerations to his arm and required four staples in his scalp.

LaFerriere testified that the female victim required 280 stitches due to her facial injuries, which included a right eye fracture and left cheekbone fracture, as well as numerous broken bones in her hands and left wrist.

According to the male victim, the attack was due to “family drama,” LaFerriere said, adding that the uncle recollected being molested by his father — Hodges’ grandfather — when he was 3 years old.

LaFerriere said he interviewed a neighbor who told him he saw the female victim run out of the house, screaming for help, and later saw Hodges walk out and get into a black SUV. Hodges did not appear drunk or have any blood on him, the neighbor said.

Hodges’ girlfriend also was interviewed and told LaFerriere she suspected Hodges had drunk eight beers and a bottle of whiskey that day.

Judge Candace Heidelberger found enough probable cause to hold Hodges on all three counts and set his formal arraignment for July 15.

Man allegedly used hammer, tied up victim in robbery, assault

Heidelberger also found sufficient evidence to hold a 30-year-old Grass Valley man to answer on multiple charges after he allegedly tied up and assaulted a man in a robbery.

John William Grimes allegedly attacked the victim in the 14000 block of Idaho-Maryland Road on June 3 in an attempt to obtain money. Grimes was subsequently arrested at a Grass Valley motel.

During Grimes’ preliminary hearing Thursday, the victim testified that he was tied up with electric cord and that Grimes threatened to kill him if he didn’t give him money.

The man said Grimes hit him in the stomach as hard as he could. He testified that he had been drinking and was asleep on the couch when he woke up to find someone standing over him.

“What I remember is my hammer being swung at me,” he said.

The victim said that after Grimes took his ATM card and a cell phone and left, he was able to free himself. He said he went next door, but that his neighbors did not initially believe he had been attacked.

When asked why he didn’t call 911, he said, “Because I wanted to kill him myself.”

The victim testified that he sought treatment the next day for a collapsed lung and broken ribs.

On cross-examination, the victim acknowledged he had been to prison five times and that he used meth. He described Grimes as an acquaintance with whom he had been neighborly.

Nevada County Sheriff’s Det. Rob Bringolf testified that he found cut pieces of phone cord and strips of fabric in the victim’s bedroom. He also found a hammer in a kitchen drawer, but it was not clear if that was the alleged weapon.

Heidelberger held Grimes to answer on charges of first-degree residential burglary, robbery while using a deadly weapon and causing great bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, assault causing bodily injury, false imprisonment by violence and criminal threats. She did not find enough evidence to hold him on a kidnapping charge, however.

He is set for a formal arraignment on July 15.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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The Union Updated Jun 28, 2013 01:59PM Published Jul 2, 2013 11:16AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.