Court assigns judge to Thomas murder trial
By Neal Putnam
An El Cajon Superior Court judge was assigned Jan. 18 to hear the upcoming trial and legal motions for a Ramona man accused of killing a 94-year-old woman as she slept in her home.
A new trial date will be set on Feb. 1, when Gary Allen Thomas, 63, is scheduled to appear before Judge Allan Preckel in the 2012 slaying of Jean Eskridge. The trial date is Feb. 26, but a later date will be selected with the judge’s schedule, the prosecutor said.
El Cajon Presiding Judge John Thompson assigned the case to Preckel when Thomas appeared before him on Friday. Judges are not usually appointed several months before a trial, but the procedure was done so attorneys can file their pre-trial motions now and the judge can get familiar with the case.
Thomas has pleaded not guilty, and a separate plea of not guilty by reason of insanity was entered on Sept. 20. Jurors will determine if Thomas committed the murder and whether he was insane at the time.
Eskridge was found bludgeoned to death in her bed on May 1, 2012, in her home in the Terrace Estates mobile home park in the 1200 block of H Street. Thomas was a neighbor and he confessed to the crime to sheriff’s homicide detectives in a video recorded interview.
Thomas claimed he had a longtime desire to kill somebody but had never before acted on it. The victim’s children and many friends were startled at Thomas’ comments when part of the videotaped interview was aired in his preliminary hearing in a packed courtroom.
Thomas remains in the Vista Detention Facility on $3.5 million bail.
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- Judge orders trial for man accused in beating death of 94-year-old neighbor
- Videotape stuns court in murder case
- Judge sets Aug. 27 hearing in murder case
- Hearing today for Gary Thomas, 63, charged with murdering neighbor, 94
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