Hate-crime suspect, alleged victim meet

A Belmont woman charged with a hate crime faced her accuser in court Thursday as the victim described the terror of being run down in his carport.

Janice Lutz, 49, was visibly agitated throughout the preliminary hearing and during the testimony of Noel Thomas, who was Lutz’s neighbor in an apartment complex for three years before the alleged attack.

Lutz exhaled loudly, shook her head and muttered to herself as Thomas describedhow she confronted him as he was assembling cabinets in his carport.

Thomas, who is Jamaican, said Lutz, who is white, began yelling racial epithets at him without provocation. He said he ignored his neighbor during the April 29 incident.

Lutz then got into her car, carefully lined up the bumper with Thomas’ carport, and hit the gas, he said.

Thomas said he was thrown backward as Lutz’s car struck the cabinets.

He momentarily blacked out and woke up on the ground with the cabinets pinned on top of him, he said.

It was at that point, he told San Mateo Superior Court Judge Stephen Hall, that he believed Lutz would finish him off.

“I thought she was actually going to pull the trigger on me at that moment,” he said.

Thomas, a general contractor, said he missed several days of work due to a sprained shoulder.

He said Lutz had once before used racial slurs against him when he asked her to move her garbage can.

Belmont Police Officer Charles Bradshaw also took the stand Thursday, telling the judge that an interview with another neighbor revealed Lutz often used abusive epithets against Hispanic tenants.

After hearing Thomas’ and Bradshaw’s testimony, Hall held Lutz to answer on the two felony hate crime charges, but dropped the felony hit-and-run charge she faced due to lack of evidence.

Outside court, Lutz’ attorney, public defender Tom Kelley, said his client isn’t a racist, but has a hard time controlling herself.

“This woman has a black boyfriend,” he said. “She says inappropriate things sometimes because she can’t control what she says.”

Two doctors have concluded that Lutz, who is free on her own recognizance, is competent to stand trial.

tbarak@examiner.com

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