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    Man pleads guilty to unprovoked fatal beating of 70-year-old Anaheim resident
    • January 23, 2024

    SANTA ANA — A 33-year-old man pleaded guilty Monday to fatally beating a 70-year-old man in Anaheim on Memorial Day 2021, trying to attack another man in the neighborhood and assaulting two other victims a couple weeks before that.

    David Steven Abbott had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and was midway through his trial when his defense attorney and prosecutors began discussing a plea deal. Jurors were dismissed Monday and now the question of whether Abbott was legally sane at the time he killed Caltrans worker Rahmatolah “Davey” Yaghoubi will be left up to Orange County Superior Court Judge Sheila Hanson, who will hand down her ruling on Tuesday.

    Abbott was free on bail when he beat Yaghoubi to death for attacks on May 15, 2021. On Monday, he pleaded guilty to attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon while admitting sentencing enhancements for attempted premeditated murder and the personal use of a deadly weapon in those attacks on two victims.

    Hanson sentenced Abbott to eight years to life in prison for those crimes. But if she finds he was legally insane at the time of the fatal beating, then the prison sentence would be suspended until his sanity was restored in a mental health facility, where he would be sent to indefinitely.

    In Yaghoubi’s death, Abbott pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and felony assault for an unrelated attack nearby.

    Abbott’s attorney, Lee Stonum of the Alternate Defender’s Office, said his client has been diagnosed as bipolar and schizophrenic.

    Yaghoubi’s brother, John Yaghoubi, protested to Hanson about what he felt was an imbalance in the process.

    “It is shocking to me that the person who murdered my brother has more rights than my brother,” Yaghoubi said. “To me, it is so disappointing a person can get away with an insanity plea.”

    A shirtless Abbott with a large dog in tow approached Luis Javier Vera about noon that Memorial Day at the victim’s home. Vera was in the driveway of the home while his daughter, who had just given birth, was tending to the newborn and watching television.

    Vera said his daughter, Kailyn, “brought it to my attention someone” was approaching the home.

    “He was very friendly, had a smile on his face and introduced himself,” Vera said. “He told me his name and put his hand out so I shook it.”

    Kailyn Vera said her brother was selling his car in the driveway so she thought Abbott was a potential customer.

    Abbott leaned in closely to Vera “and gave me a dirty gaze and looked me in the eye” before hauling off and punching Vera in the head, Vera said.

    Vera said he “stumbled” but then managed to compose himself and ran behind the car for cover. The two kept maneuvering back and forth around the car as Vera called to his daughter to dial police, he said.

    “He kept yelling, `You don’t belong here, go back where you came from,’” Vera said.

    Stonum said in his opening statement of the trial that his client appeared to think he could look into the eyes of people and determine if they were possessed by a demon.

    Kailyn Vera said she dashed into the house to get her brother, who emerged with his baseball bat while she used his phone to call police.

    “My son came out with a baseball to stop him,” Vera said.

    Abbott began backing away making “devil horns” signs with his hands, Vera said.

    Kailyn Vera testified that the defendant “threatened to come back to see me. He pointed right at me specifically.”

    When they said the police were on the way, Abbott said, “I’m the devil. I know the police and they’re on my side,” Kailyn Vera testified.

    Abbott moved on from the 1300 block of Devonshire Road to Falmouth and Catalpa avenues and began attacking Yaghoubi about 12:15 p.m.

    Eric Hoekstra testified he was putting up a flag in his front yard when he hard “some shouting, a commotion.”

    Initially he thought it might be a “domestic scuffle and I was not inclined to get involved,” Hoekstra said.

    But as he got closer to the scrum he saw Abbott “hit him hard and snapped the victim’s head back,” Hoekstra testified. “He crumpled like a bag of rocks.”

    As Abbott continued kicking the victim Hoekstra shouted to him to “knock it off” while dialing 911, Hoekstra testified. A dispatcher advised Hoekstra that officers were on the way and to not get involved.

    As Abbott continued kicking the victim “in the head and torso” he was “screaming, sounding like something Biblical, but I read the Bible and it’s nothing I ever read.”

    Abbott was shouting, “This is what he needs, he needs to repent,” Hoekstra testified.

    As Hoekstra kept imploring Abbott to stop, “He looked at me, I got his attention,” he testified. “He gave me an evil look, and that’s when I backed down because he’s obviously a dangerous person.”

    Deputy District Attorney Seton Hunt played a video of the beating death with Abbott heard shouting, “Let the good Lord in your heart!”

    Abbott also said, “Get out! In the name of the good spirit! Everything is belief! Hallelujah, good Lord! Hallelujah! Watch. Hallelujah! God bless his good name! The better. Everything!”

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    ​ Orange County Register