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Mentally Ill Transient Pleads Guilty to Senior Citizen Attack
By City News Service
Published February 11, 2016
Demarrea Chante Barnes, 29, is expected to be sentenced to nine years in prison on Feb. 25, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office. Barnes pleaded guilty last week to attacking an 83- year-old man in the parking lot of a Santa Ana restaurant, leaving him hospitalized in critical condition. Courtesy Photo

Demarrea Chante Barnes, 29, is expected to be sentenced to nine years in prison on Feb. 25, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Barnes pleaded guilty last week to attacking an 83- year-old man in the parking lot of a Santa Ana restaurant, leaving him hospitalized in critical condition. Courtesy Photo

A transient pleaded guilty last week to attacking an 83- year-old man in the parking lot of a Santa Ana restaurant, leaving him hospitalized in critical condition.

Demarrea Chante Barnes, 29, is expected to be sentenced to nine years in prison on Feb. 25, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Barnes admitted one count each of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and elder and dependent adult abuse. He also admitted sentencing enhancements for great bodily injury and for having three prior convictions for drug possession in 2005 and 2008 and assault on a peace officer with injury in 2012, according to prosecutors.

Barnes was arrested Sept. 26, after surveillance video of the previous day’s assault was widely broadcast on local television newscasts.

Prosecutors said the man suffered broken facial bones and a brain hemorrhage. The victim’s son, Pete Nguyen, said shortly after the attack that his father, Tuyen, was making an “amazing recovery.”

The victim was attacked about 6:10 a.m. after getting out of his vehicle in the parking lot of the Emerald Bay restaurant, 5015 W. Edinger Ave. A man walked up to him and repeatedly punched and kicked him, knocking him to the ground, but did not take anything from the victim.

According to Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, the victim had “been going there for 15 years to get his morning coffee,” and his family reported that he recognized Barnes as a transient who frequented the area.
The victim had offered to buy the transient a coffee in the past, but otherwise they do not know each other, according to Bertagna.

Following a September court hearing, Barnes’ aunt, Wilda Wright, apologized to the victim’s family.

“We just want to say we’re sorry, and we apologize and we pray that your grandfather gets better,” she said, calling the attack “out of character for my nephew.”

“This is not the Demarrea we know, the Demarrea we raised,” Wright added. “This is not him.”

The defendants’ family said he has suffered from mental illness since childhood but has no problems when he is on his medication.

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