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Man committed to state mental hospital following wild chase

Chatsworth man sentenced after nearly two years

Posted: December 19, 2012 1:15 p.m.
Updated: December 19, 2012 1:15 p.m.

A Chatsworth man accused of leading deputies on a wild high-speed chase through Santa Clarita two years ago has been committed to a state mental hospital, court papers show.

Aaron Clay Tanner, now 32, who is bipolar with a long history of mental illness, was committed last month to Patton State Hospital for a confinement not to exceed 40 years and four months, said Jane Robison, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.

Tanner’s confinement time was based on his pleading no contest to 14 felony counts, including assault with a deadly weapon, carjacking, assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, evading an officer, and multiple counts of assault on a peace officer, she said.

Tanner’s wild chase on Dec. 17, 2010, began in the Newhall Pass and ended in Saugus. During it, Tanner stabbed his mother, stole her car, crashed it, stole another car with a young boy inside, crashed it, stole a deputy’s patrol car and totaled it.

He was then arrested.

On Nov. 9, San Fernando Superior Court Judge David Gelfound pronounced the sentence on Tanner.
The 119-year-old Patton State Hospital, at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains, is a forensic mental hospital run by the California Department of State Hospitals.

It accommodates 1,287 patients who have been committed by the judicial system for treatment.

Tanner’s mental state came under scrutiny at the man’s preliminary hearing held in May 2011.
The court heard from witnesses that Tanner, in the days preceding the chase, talked about neighbors spying on him.

About the chase itself, they testified that Tanner beat a woman near Sierra Highway and Newhall Avenue, then stole her Chrysler PT Cruiser while her 4-year-old son was sitting in the backseat.

Under direct questioning from Deputy District Attorney Richard Quinones, Tanner’s mother, Amber, told the court she was driving her son to a cousin’s house in Bakersfield when he started to act erratically.

Before approaching the Newhall Pass, Amber Tanner struck a pothole. Aaron Tanner accused her of striking children with her Toyota Scion.

Aaron Tanner began throwing bags and swinging his arms wildly, she said. He then slashed his mother with a folding knife six times.

She stopped the car and got out, at which point her son got behind the wheel and drove north on Highway 14.

Minutes later, according to a second woman at the preliminary hearing, Tanner was seen on foot dodging traffic near the intersection of Sierra Highway and Newhall Avenue. By then, he had crashed the Scion into a pickup truck and then into a wall on Newhall Avenue near the Highway 14 overpass.

Tanner ran to the woman’s PT Cruiser and climbed through a rear passenger window, where her 4-year-old son was sitting.

As Tanner was grabbing the woman’s hair and cursing, the woman was able to get out of the car and pull Tanner out of the car as well.

She testified Tanner started punching her in the face. After she was knocked to the ground, he straddled her and punched her in the back of her head.

Concerned motorists stopped to help, at which point Tanner got back into the PT Cruiser and drove away with the woman’s son still strapped in his child’s seat, witnesses testified.

Deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station caught up to Tanner after he crashed the PT Cruiser near Carl Boyer Drive and Golden Valley Road.

As they pulled the 4-year-old boy from the crashed car, Tanner stole a sheriff’s patrol car and crashed it after driving the car off a 100-foot embankment at the end of a cul-de-sac on Santa Clarita Road.



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