Attempted murder charge won’t stand, attorney contends

An attempted murder charge against a 57-year-old Foster City man accused of bashing his father with a hammer has “torn the family apart,” his attorney said Thursday.

Jayanthibhai Patel “has a very tightly knit family, and this has turned out to be a tragedy for all of them,” said Patel’s attorney, Bill Fazio.

Patel, who is out of custody on $500,000 bail, appeared briefly in San Mateo Superior Court on Thursday but did not enter a plea, citing the need to meet further with his new lawyer. He left quickly, flanked by his son and his brother.

Prosecutors say Patel, who was caring for his paralyzed 81-year-old father, hatched a plan to put him in a nursing home when his father didn’t share his desire to go on vacation to India. Patel wrongly believed that his father needed to be injured in order to gain admittance and even confided his plans to his father’s part-time home health aide, said Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan. Patel’s father needed seven staples to close the wound in his scalp but has since recovered.

Patel, who has no prior criminal record, is facing charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse causing great bodily injury to a person over 65. He faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted on the attempted murder charge. If it is dropped, he faces up to seven years on the remaining charges.

Fazio said he believes the district attorney will ultimately dismiss the attempted murder charge.

“I believe these charges are not supported by the evidence,” he said.

McKowan acknowledged that she may drop the charge, but said she won’t make a decision until all the evidence is laid out in a preliminary hearing prior to trial. She agreed that the Patel family is supportive of the defendant, saying Patel’s father put up his house for his son’s bail and expressed a desire to live with him again.

Still, Patel’s actions should be punished, she said.

“We can not batter our parents in order to facilitate our vacation plans,” McCowan said. “Intentionally injuring a senior citizen is not a family matter, it’s a crime.”

Aggressively prosecuting the case also sends a message to other caretakers of older relatives, McKowan said.

“Our senior citizens are entitled to all the same protections as anyone else,” she said. “It in no way makes it less of a crime that the guy who hit him in the head was his son.”

tbarak@examiner.com

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