An East Palo Alto resident was sentenced today to three years in state prison for assaulting an 89-year-old priest and two others in July 2015 in East Palo Alto, prosecutors said.
Juan Perez, 42, was under the influence of methamphetamine when he assaulted the priest with the priest's cane in the parking lot of St. Francis of Assisi Church at 1425 Bay Road in East Palo Alto.
His attorney Gabriela Guraiib asked that Perez be sentenced to probation but the judge agreed with prosecutors who sought the three-year term, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
"Rehabilitation is the best tool to protect society," Guraiib said today in a statement.
"Mr. Perez worked hard to show the judge that he was seriously committed towards rehabilitation," Guraiib said. "I am saddened by the court's decision."
Wagstaffe said the priest also asked the judge to be lenient with Perez and not send him to state prison.
Perez first pushed the priest down without a reason, prosecutors said. Then Perez took the priests cane from him and beat him with it until it broke, prosecutors said.
A witness tried to stop Perez by disarming him and Perez stuck the person with the remaining part of the cane and ran.
Two brothers saw the assault and pursued Perez who hit one of the brothers with what was left of the cane, according to prosecutors. Perez took multiple swings with the cane at the other brother before the two subdued him and police arrived.
Paramedics treated the four victims. None of the four suffered major injuries, prosecutors said.