Transient gets 3 years for assault of priest

REDWOOD CITY (BCN) — A transient pleaded no contest Tuesday to felony assault after punching a Catholic priest several times last year on church grounds, prosecutors said.

David Lewis, 35, who is also a sex offender and parolee, was on the grounds of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church and School at 1310 Bayswater Ave. in Burlingame, at 9:22 a.m. on June 11, 2014, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

Two staff members asked Lewis to leave because school was in session, prosecutors said.

But Lewis stayed on the grounds smoking a cigarette and the priest came out of the rectory and also asked him to leave, prosecutors said.

Lewis became angry and attacked the priest, punching him multiple times in the chest and face. The attack caused the priest to fall and fracture his elbow, while Lewis fled the church grounds, prosecutors said.

Defense attorney Jeff Jackson said the priest was in layman’s clothes and Lewis did not know who he was.

“He certainly didn’t go there that day with the intention of hurting anyone,” Jackson said.

Responding officers located Lewis, who denied attacking anyone but was arrested, according to prosecutors.

About a month after the attack, Jackson was doubtful Lewis could assist in his defense and a judge had two doctors examine him, prosecutors said.

The doctors concluded that Lewis was incompetent to stand trial and the court and both sides agreed, prosecutors said.

The trial was postponed until Lewis was mentally competent again, according to prosecutors.

A judge ordered Lewis committed to Napa State Hospital on Oct. 24 and he entered the hospital in February when a bed was available, prosecutors said.

Jackson submitted a report Sept. 4 showing Lewis was again competent and criminal proceedings resumed, prosecutors said.

Following the no contest plea, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Leland Davis on Tuesday sentenced Lewis to three years in state prison and ordered him to submit to genetic marker testing, according to prosecutors.

Jackson said Lewis has about three months left in his sentence because of time already served and he’ll be put out on the street with no place to live once he is released.

San Mateo County Health System officials could not immediately be reached to confirm whether there will be any help available for Lewis once he is out of prison.

Lewis will appear in court on Nov. 3 for a restitution hearing, prosecutors said.

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