SAN JACINTO: Felon charged with beating, robbing San Jacinto seniors

BANNING – A felon accused with another man of attacking and robbing two seniors at a San Jacinto intersection was charged Tuesday, Aug. 22, with robbery and other felonies.

Curtis Lee Howard Jr., 25, was arrested last week following a Riverside County sheriff’s investigation into the Aug. 16 holdup.

Along with robbery, Howard was charged with elder abuse, assault resulting in great bodily injury and a sentence-enhancing allegation of committing a crime while on bail.

The defendant is being held without bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning and was slated to make his initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon at the Banning Justice Center.

According to sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Duckett, in the predawn hours of Aug. 16, an 82-year-old San Jacinto man and his 75-year-old wife, neither of whom were identified, were heading home from the Soboba Casino with an undisclosed amount of cash from table winnings when their vehicle was struck from behind.

The victims stopped at the intersection of Hewitt and Main streets to inspect the damage and confer with the driver of the SUV and were immediately confronted by Howard and an as-yet-unidentified accomplice, who roughed up the senior, Duckett said.

He said Howard and his cohort allegedly stripped the victim of his winnings, then jumped back in the SUV, speeding away and striking the victims’ vehicle in the process, further injuring the man, who was standing outside the car when it was sideswiped.

The man was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. His wife was not physically harmed, according to the sergeant.

Based on evidence collected at the scene and at the casino, detectives summarily identified Howard as a suspect and arrested him without incident the following day.

The other party remains at large. No identifying details were available.

According to court records, Howard has served time in state prison within the last five years, though the offenses were not disclosed. He has a separate drug-related case pending and was free on $75,000 bail, awaiting adjudication of that matter, when he was arrested for the alleged robbery, records showed.

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