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Man can see woman he allegedly attacked

Posted: October 2, 2008 9:56 p.m.
Updated: December 4, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Judge Dalila Lyons changed the terms of John Willett’s restraining order Thursday granting him limited contact with his mother.

Willett, 21, of Stevenson Ranch, is charged with assault with a deadly weapon when he wielded a knife in an attack against his mother and grandfather Sept. 1.

During the attack Willett allegedly pressed a knife against his mother’s neck to keep his grandfather at bay. He is also accused of using pepper spray against his mother and grandfather. It took several sheriff’s deputies to restrain Willett and he allegedly punched a deputy during his arrest.

Willett sat calmly in the San Fernando Superior Court with his father and attorney James Gregory, who gave him instructions on the proceeding while the court waited for the judge to emerge from chambers.

Willett is undergoing psychiatric evaluation and doctors are modifying the dangerous mix of medication that fueled the Sept. 1 rampage, Gregory said. Willett’s face is disfigured by a non-operable tumor that is treated with medication partially responsible for the outburst, he said.

Considering the circumstances and the Willett family’s efforts to rectify the situation, Gregory asked the court to modify the restraining order to allow Willett to see his mother. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office didn’t buy it.

“Despite the mother’s moving letter and the explanation from the physician, the mother is not an expert and there is no evidence from an expert showing Mr. Willett is not a physical threat,” said Caroline Yeh, deputy district attorney.

Gregory backed down and adjusted his request. He asked the court if Willett’s mother could accompany him on visits to the psychiatrist because she is the repository for most of Willett’s medical history.

“We object because of safety,” Yeh said. The severity of Willett’s crime and medical issues make him a potential threat to his mother, she said.

Lyons modified the restraining order, but warned Willett and his attorney that new conditions are firm and any violation will result in the old restraining order condition going back into effect. Willett can be accompanied by his mother only to medical or psychiatric visits and with only with another physically able adult.

“I am only allowing this because of the mother’s knowledge of his medical history. I don’t even want you to stop at a restaurant going to and from medical visits,” Lyons said peering over the bench at Willett. Lyons demanded the family to provide a safety plan in case Willett has a repeat episode. The restraining order goes into effect immediately.

Willett was released under his own recognizance is due back in court Oct. 29 for a preliminary hearing.

The psychiatrist will be asked testify Sept. 29 about Willett’s mental and emotional capacity and whether modifying his medicine is working, Lyons said.


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