By Neal Putnam
A Ramona man accused of killing his neighbor, 94-year-old Mary Jean Eskridge, waived his right Friday to have a speedy preliminary hearing, and a judge rescheduled it for Aug. 27.
Gary Allen Thomas, 63, will also have a readiness conference on July 25 in El Cajon Superior Court. He has pleaded not guilty to the May 1 murder. Sheriff’s deputies arrested him the next day.
When Thomas was arraigned on May 4, Deputy District Attorney David Williams III said the hearing dates would probably be changed. His attorney, Tom Carnessale from the public defender’s office, has defended many murder suspects.
Eskridge had developed a friendship with Thomas, who took her to events. On May 1, she let Thomas stay in the guest room, and he is alleged to have beaten her to death with a hammer.
Williams has asked for anyone who knows something about the slaying or Thomas to contact Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477. He said Williams had lived in the Ramona Terrace Estates at 1212 H St. for the past six years and is divorced, but they know little else about him.
Thomas remains in the downtown jail in San Diego on $3.5 million bail.