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Suspect in Random Assault on Elderly Man Has Long Arrest Record

Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Jorge Casuso

December 12, 2019 -- The suspect in an assault on an 87-year-old Santa Monica resident Saturday is part of a revolving-door court system that puts violators quickly back on the street, according to police and court records.

Joseph Jean Gilbert, who was charged by County prosecutors on Tuesday with elder abuse, has been arrested 19 other times, mostly for misdemeanors, according to court records.
Joseph Jean Gilbert

Of the arrests, 11 were for Santa Monica municipal code violations and were dismissed, the first dating back five years.

Gilbert's most recent arrest prior to Saturday -- for randomly punching an elderly pedestrian in the face on a Downtown street -- was for being under the influence of a controlled substance.

That case, which was heard October 10 in the Torrance Courthouse, is pending.

Left: Joseph Jean Gilbert (Courtesy Santa Monica Police Department)

In June 2015, Gilbert was convicted of grand theft and sentenced to three years probation, according to court records.

In November 2017, he was convicted of robbery and assault with intent to cause great bodily harm and was placed on probation for three years.

Three of the other charges were misdemeanors for resisting arrest or interfering with a police officer.

Gilbert's most recent arrest came on Saturday after police received a call from an eyewitness who reported an elderly man had been assaulted near Reed Park at around 11:15 a.m., according to police.

"The attack was unprovoked," said Lt. Candice Cobarrubias, the Police Department spokesperson. "He just walked up to him and punched him in the face."

The punch knocked out the victim's dentures and caused "significant facial trauma," Cobarrubias said.

"The victim ended up walking home," she said.

Police responded to the scene and found a suspect matching the eyewitness' description in an alley, but there was no victim to identify him, Cobarrubias said.

"We had to let him go," she said.

At around 12:30, police received a call from the victim's daughter.

Two hours later, Cobarrubias said, they received another radio call involving the same suspect, who was described as having a bloodied face.

Police found Gilbert on the 800 block of Palisades Park, identified him as matching the description and took him into custody without incident, she said.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles District Attorney filed one count of elder abuse. Bail has been set at $50,000.

Elder abuse carries that same maximum penalty of one year in County jail but is "taken more seriously by the courts," Cobarrubias said.

Cobarrubias points to two State initiatives police cite as reasons convicts are returned to the streets.

Approved by voters in 2014, Proposition 47 -- titled the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act by former California Attorney General Kamala Harris -- recategorized some nonviolent felonies as misdemeanors.

Santa Monica voters approved the measure with nearly 80 percent of the vote -- 20,326 to 5,506 -- compared to voters across the state, who approved the measure with 60 percent of the vote.

Proposition 57, approved in 2016 by California voters, hastened the release of some non-violent offenders from prisons.

"People probably didn't think through and see what the bigger repercussions were," Cobarrubias said.

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