Nevada County Superior Court judge holds suspect in maul attack held on assault, vandalism charges |

Nevada County Superior Court judge holds suspect in maul attack held on assault, vandalism charges

The defense counsel for a man accused of attacking another person with a splitting maul and smashing his window argued his actions were in self-defense.

However, Nevada County Superior Court Judge Candace Heidelberger said she didn’t find enough evidence to support that claim during a Thursday preliminary hearing for Paul Warde Switzer.

“That claim could be fleshed out at trial,” Heidelberger said, before holding Switzer, 52, on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and vandalism.

Switzer — whose case had been delayed after he was declared not mentally competent for a period of time — is set to be formally arraigned on those charges Jan. 3, nearly a year to the day after the incident that led to his arrest. Sheriff’s officials said he remained jailed Friday on $35,000 in bond.

Robin Sutton testified that he was returning on Jan. 2 to a Cherry Hill Place property where he had been working, and pulled into the driveway to see Switzer “coming at him” with a hammer in his hand. Sutton said he began to reverse down the driveway and saw Switzer fall, then came back toward his truck with a maul.

Switzer then used the maul to smash through the driver’s side window, hitting him in the back, Sutton said.

“I asked him what he was doing,” Sutton said. “He said, ‘I’m going to kill you.’”

Sutton said he tried to “push” Switzer out of the way with his truck, testifying he had difficulty escaping the narrow road in reverse.

“I was scared for my life,” he said.

Neighbor Lori Savageau testified she saw part of the incident, including a time when Switzer appeared to be retreating and Sutton was driving toward him. She said it appeared that Switzer hit the truck twice with the maul.

Deputy Public Defender Tamara Zuromskis asked Savageau about a prior incident between the two men in which Sutton allegedly “sicced” his dog on Switzer. Sutton had denied inciting the dog, telling Heidelberger the dog jumped out of his truck “on her own.” Savageau said she did not witness that, but that Switzer came to her for help and seemed “petrified.”

Deputy District Attorney Casey Ayer, however, argued the attack by Switzer was “wholly unprovoked” and that the situation became something of a mess afterward.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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