Cabinet smasher faces trial

A 49-year-old Belmont woman accused of a hate crime in which she drove her car into her African-American neighbor’s driveway and smashed cabinets as he was assembling them was found competent Tuesday to stand trial by doctors assigned to evaluate her mental state.

Prosecutors say Janice Lutz had a running feud with a neighbor at a 600 block of Wessex Way apartment complex. On April 29, as the neighbor was assembling cabinets in his designated parking spot, Lutz allegedly drove into the cabinets while yelling racial epithets.

The victim was pinned by the car while scurrying to get out of the way and suffered a sprained shoulder, said Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

After the Tuesday hearing, Lutz, whois free on her own recognizance, said that a dispute between her and the victim was going on for years.

“I wasn’t trying to kill him,” she said. “I just wanted to knock over his cabinets. He’s done things to me. He’s dumped garbage on my front porch.”

Lutz was accompanied to court by an African-American friend. The man, who did not want to reveal his name, said, “It’s been an ongoing thing for years. There’s nothing to it. I’m her friend and I’m black.”

Lutz admitted to using racial epithets after being arrested, but not during the incident as prosecutors claim.

“It was after I was arrested, because I was angry,” she said.

Lutz faces three felony counts of a hate crime, including assault with a deadly weapon. She faces seven years in state prison, Wagstaffe said. A preliminary hearing date has been set for July 31.

bfoley@examiner.com


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