Mentally ill man accused of attacking mother pleads not guilty to multiple charges

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — A mentally ill man accused of attacking his 69-year-old mother at her Mira Mesa home with two metal pipes, leaving her critically injured, pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of attempted murder, aggravated mayhem, elder abuse and other counts.

Theodore Charles Guenther, 36, was ordered held on $1 million bail. He faces 13 years to life in prison if convicted.

"Hands down, this is one of the most horrific beatings I’ve seen in my career,” Deputy District Attorney Scott Pirrello said outside court. "Unfortunately, it’s a horrible case of elder abuse involving a child of an elder parent suffering from schizophrenia.”

Pirrello said Guenther was on probation for elder abuse after he threatened his mother Cynthia last year. The defendant had left a sober living home where he was living in violation of a protective order, the prosecutor said.

On Wednesday, the defendant was spraying water on his mother at her home in the 8900 block of Capcano Road and she told him to stop or she was going to call the police, Pirrello said.

Something the victim said to the defendant set him off, and he allegedly starting beating her in the head with two metal pipes, each about a foot-and-a-half long, the prosecutor said.

The victim tried to get in the house and call police, but the defendant took the phone from her and allegedly tried to break her neck when they went to the ground, Pirrello said.

The defendant left when the victim played dead, according to the prosecutor.

"This savage beating ended after her being repeatedly struck, over 30 times in the head with these metal pipes and her neck being snapped by him,” Pirrello said. "The only way for her to get him to stop the beating, apparently, was for her to play dead.”

Patrol officers found Theodore Guenther, along with his alleged makeshift weapons, at a nearby park and took him into custody, according to police.

Guenther also faces charges of making a criminal threat and attempting to dissuade a victim from reporting a crime.

A readiness conference was set for July 31 and a preliminary hearing for Aug. 3.

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