Prosecutors dropped a slew of new charges on the man suspected of slingshotting glass marbles at vehicles traveling along Highway 101, including allegations that he assaulted two California Highway Patrol officers just months after the attacks began.
Deputy District Attorney Matthew L'Hereaux refused to disclose any details of the alleged attacks on CHP officers Peter Avila and Adam McDaniel, but the new criminal complaint lodged against Charles Kenneth Lafferty states the incident involving the two took place on or about April 28, 2019.
In addition, Lafferty faces 74 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and three counts of felony child abuse, charges that were brought because some of the victims showered by glass when the marbles shattered car windows were under the age of 18.
In a brief court hearing on Monday, Jan. 27, Lafferty, who has been in Monterey County Jail since his Jan. 22 arrest, pleaded not guilty to the charges. Monterey Superior Court Judge Julie Culver elevated his bail to $517,000 and it's unclear if the 52-year-old Lafferty, who's been described as a handyman with a part-time residence in Monterey County, has the ability to pay.
The stealth attacks that for nearly a year confounded law enforcement and terrorized drivers traveling along the Highway 101 corridor through Prunedale began in February 2019 and continued through early this month. A school bus carrying the Carmel High School football team to playoff game in San Jose on Nov. 22 had its rear window shattered by a projectile, just minutes after a Mercedes had its window broken in another attack.
Rick Diaz, a Prunedale resident who travels to Gilroy for his job in loss prevention, started a Facebook page for residents to track and discuss the attacks. The CHP asked members to refrain from theorizing about the attacks in case the assailant was among the group's members.
Diaz came to Lafferty's arraignment to advocate for higher bail, an issue he says has caused fellow Prunedale residents and victims great concern.
"The DA doesn't think he has the means to get out [by posting bail]," Diaz says. Asked what he might have to say to Lafferty, and he offered this: "I think he's a disgusting person. And I hope he learns his lesson for terrifying the citizens of my community."
Law enforcement officials held a press conference Jan. 23 to announce the arrest, although they offered few details about how Lafferty made it onto their radar or how the case evolved. A $15,000 reward—$5,000 of which was offered by Monterey County Supervisor John Phillips, whose district includes Prunedale— will go unclaimed, an indicator that nobody offered information leading to Lafferty's arrest.
Lafferty spoke only once during his hearing, when asked by Culver if he understood he had a right to a speedy trial, a right which his public defender waived. "Yes," he said.
He will next appear in court at 1:30pm on Feb. 18 for a preliminary hearing setting, which his preliminary hearing currently scheduled for 10am on Feb. 20.