RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — An investigator testified Wednesday in the trial of an ex-con accused of beating an 86-year-old woman in her Riverside home.

Jose Rafael Cardenas, 24, is also accused of beating the woman unconscious, ransacking her single-story home and pawning an item he allegedly stole from her.

Riverside Police Detective Mike Medici showed the court a surveillance tape from Cash For Gold in Riverside. It allegedly showed the defendant pawning a gold coin that belonged to the victim, known only during court proceedings as Verna.

“[The coin] was about the size of a silver dollar, wrapped in an acrylic cover,” Medici testified.

The coin, as well as an Apple iPod taken in another burglary allegedly on the same day, were among multiple pieces of evidence tying Cardenas to the break-ins, according to the prosecution.

The DA also showed the court shoe prints that tie Cardenas to the beating of the elderly woman.  Prosecutors said Cardenas beat Verna until she bled on her floor.

The defendant faces more than 20 years behind bars if convicted of robbery, forcible assault, gang activity, three counts of burglary and multiple sentence-enhancing allegations, including committing great bodily injury on a person older than 70 years old.

Cardenas is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.

The alleged victim told police she remembered little about the assault but that she awoke to Cardenas standing over her asking for money.

The DA said Cardenas ransacked the home for more than a half-hour before Verna’s son-in-law came home. Officials said when the son-in-law walked in, Cardenas fled out a rear window.

Verna required several days of hospitalization and physical rehab.

The DA said a nearby burglary that same day was linked to Cardenas by using fingerprints and other physical evidence.

Cardenas — who lives about three blocks from both crime scenes — was reportedly out on bail at the time of the incident.


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