Charles Lafferty*

Charles Lafferty, accused of 79 charges stemming from a series of projectile attacks on vehicles traveling along Highway 101 through Prunedale, pleaded guilty on April 29 to 30 counts of assault with a deadly weapon. He will be sentenced on June 29 to 15 years in prison.

The "what" part is mostly over. The "why" part may never be determined.

Charles Kenneth Lafferty—the Los Banos handyman accused of using a slingshot and glass marbles to shoot at vehicles traveling along Highways 101 and 156 through Prunedale in a year-long campaign that terrorized residents and drivers—pleaded guilty Thursday, April 29, to 30 counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Two of those counts involved assault on a peace officer, after Lafferty targeted two California Highway Patrol officers in their vehicle as well.

Lafferty entered the plea before Monterey County Superior Court Judge Mark Hood, saying nothing more than "yes" to the judge's questions that he understood the charges, knew they were all serious felonies and that he would be sentenced to 15 years in state prison as a result of the plea.

And as Hood read off the charges, Lafferty responded "guilty" 30 times.

That's the what. But Deputy District Attorney Matt L'Heureux said after the hearing that the "why" will most likely remain a mystery.

"In his interview, he said he didn't know why he did it and we never found anything to indicate why he did it," L'Heureux said. 

Lafferty could have faced 70 years in prison had he gone to trial and been convicted on all 79 counts stemming from the vehicle attacks that began in February 2019 and ran through Jan. 11, 2020. He was arrested on Jan. 22, 2020 and has been in jail since, unable to make bail. 

Among the 69 reported attacks, the vehicles targeted included the CHP patrol car and a school bus carrying Carmel High School athletes en route to a game in Silicon Valley. Four adults and one child suffered minor injuries in the series of attacks. Drivers began taking security precautions, making sure children weren't seated next to windows when possible, and screening passenger windows to make it harder for the unidentified attacker to see inside their vehicles.

Lafferty's connection to Monterey County remains nebulous. Investigators believe he owned at least one piece of property here.

Monterey County Supervisor John Phillips, whose district includes the highway areas where the attacks occurred, had put up some of his own money to fund a $15,000 reward leading to an arrest in the case. In the end, the money wasn't paid out because the case was solved by police work.

"It really instilled fear among people. It was so random," Phillips, a former prosecutor and judge, said Thursday when informed of the plea. "It created a tremendous amount of angst and it was a crime so difficult to solve. Everyone thought it was a young kid doing it and it turned out how wrong we were." 

Lafferty will be sentenced on June 29. 

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