Former Padre Kevin Mitchell pleads no contest to misdemeanor charge of assaulting golfer

CHULA VISTA (CNS) – Former San Diego Padre Kevin Mitchell pleaded no contest Thursday to a misdemeanor assault charge stemming from an attack on a man on a South Bay golf course last summer.

Mitchell, 49, who played third base for the Padres in 1987, will be sentenced April 4 at the South Bay Courthouse. He faces a maximum of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The former player pleaded no contest to a charge of assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury for the attack on Leonard Lerma on the 13th hole of the Bonita Golf Club last July 21.

Lerma testified at a preliminary hearing last year that Mitchell, playing in different group, drove up in a golf cart and confronted him.

Mitchell slapped Lerma, then hit him three more times, said Deputy District Attorney Sherry Thompson. What motivated the attack is unclear. Lerma said doctors told him he had a concussion.

In 1989, Mitchell was sued by a former girlfriend who claimed he beat her and threatened her with a gun. Criminal charges were dropped when Mitchell completed a domestic violence diversion program, according to published reports.

In 2000, while managing the minor league Sonoma County Crushers, Mitchell was suspended after punching the opposing manager during a brawl. Mitchell was named the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1989 when he played for the San Francisco Giants.

A no-contest plea means the defendant neither admits nor disputes the charges. While not technically a guilty plea, it has the same immediate effect as a guilty plea, but may have different residual effects.

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