Prosecutors in a trial charging a Grass Valley man with the November 2012 attempted murder of his aunt and uncle argued Wednesday that the defendant, Eric Hodges, attacked his relatives with a hammer after learning that his uncle, Brent Scott, accused his own father, Hodges’ grandfather, of abusing him as a child.
“Brent believed he was sexually molested by his father. He exposed it and it caused a rift within the family,” Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson told jurors during opening statements Wednesday. “That’s what was driving all of the violence and anger the day Eric Hodges attacked his aunt and uncle.”
But Hodges’ defense attorney, Larry Montgomery, told jurors Wednesday the evidence will show Hodges was acting in self-defense while at his uncle’s house and that it was not a premeditated attack.
“Eric Hodges defended himself,” Montgomery said. “He went over with the intent to talk. He was invited in and the talk escalated to an argument. The argument escalated to a fight initiated by his aunt, Suzie Scott.”
Hodges, 37, is charged with allegedly breaking into the Maiden Lane residence of Brent and Suzie Scott the afternoon of Nov. 30, 2012, and attacking them with a hammer. He is charged with two counts of attempted murder and making a criminal threat in connection with the case.
At trial Wednesday, Brent Scott testified that he has experienced mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress his entire life. Through therapy, Brent Scott said, he recently recovered a repressed memory that alleged his father sexually molested him when he was 7.
“I repressed that memory when I was younger because I was scared,” Brent Scott told jurors. “But I didn’t want my parents to know. I wanted them to live without them knowing this.”
Brent Scott testified that he told his sister, Vicky, about the abuse but asked her not to tell anyone. However, she eventually told other people in their family, causing several confrontations between Brent Scott and the rest of his family.
Brent Scott described to jurors a time when he confronted his mother at his Maiden Lane home about the alleged sexual abuse by his father. Brent Scott said, though, that his wife, Suzie Scott, asked his mother to leave when she got upset, and the two women began to yell and curse at each other, threatening to beat each other up.
According to prosecutors, during the days leading up to the attack, Hodges had phone conversations with Suzie Scott about Brent Scott’s accusations. During one conversation, prosecutors allege that Hodges threatened Suzie Scott’s life, though she didn’t take it seriously.
Brent Scott testified Wednesday that the day he was reportedly attacked, he was sleeping in his bedroom when he heard a “thump, thump, thump” noise coming from the living room.
“I heard, ‘You’re going to die you f***in b***h!” Brent Scott told jurors. “I went out and I saw Eric on top of Suzie, hitting her with a hammer.”
Brent Scott said he turned and grabbed the phone to call 911, but was hit in the back of the head by Hodges with the claw-end of the hammer.
The two men then began to grapple, Brent Scott said he was able to get Hodges into a headlock while the two fell onto a bed.
“(Hodges) yelled out, ‘My grandfather didn’t molest you!’” Brent Scott said.
“‘Yes he did!’ I said back to him.”
Brent Scott said he was then able to retrieve the hammer from Hodges’ hand, but Hodges then punched him in the jaw and said, “You f****n didn’t see me,” then fled from the house.
“I was disoriented, I was confused. I didn’t know whether Suzie was dead or not,” Brent Scott said.
Daniel Mathewson, Brent and Suzie Scott’s neighbor, told jurors Wednesday that he attended to Suzie Scott after hearing cries of help coming from her home.
“I heard her yelling ‘Dan help! Dan help! Dan help!’” Mathewson said.
“She came out near my door and it looked like something had went through her temple and pushed the eye in and out of the socket.”
Mathewson told jurors that he immediately called the police, and while on the phone he saw a man fleeing from Brent Scott’s driveway. Mathewson said the man walked toward him, then stopped in front of his home.
“He was glaring at me intently,” Mathewson told jurors.
“He went up the hill and got into a black Ford Explorer and cut down Washington Street.”
In court Wednesday, Mathewson identified Hodges as the man he saw flee the area the day of the attack.
While much of the testimony pointed to Hodges as the man who attacked Brent and Suzie Scott with a hammer, Montgomery pointed to the couple’s reported history of violent behavior toward one another. Montgomery asked Brent Scott about the five different restraining orders he has filed against his wife since August 2009.
“‘I fear for my life, it’s not safe staying with her,’ Do you remember telling police that on July 27, 2010?” Montgomery asked Brent Scott.
Brent Scott admitted that there were two instances in which his wife had attacked him, jumping on top of him and slapping him, and often throwing objects at him while at their home.
Montgomery also prodded Brent Scott on his interview with police, in which he admitted to detectives that he had been abducted by aliens and has seen UFOs throughout his life — one time in particular with his father as a child.
“It may have been my first delusion, or it may have been my first experience with an extraterrestrial being,” Brent Scott said. “I don’t know.”
The trial will continue 9 a.m. today. Prosecutors are scheduled to call on the second alleged victim, Suzie Scott, to testify before the jury.
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.
“I went out and I saw Eric on top of Suzie, hitting her with a hammer.”
Brent Scott testifying against defendant Eric Hodges