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Alleged attacker of 88-year-old pleads not guilty

A man accused of severely beating an 88-year-old woman and then burglarizing her home earlier this month in San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley pleaded not guilty in court Monday morning.

Keonte Gathron, has been charged with attempted murder, burglary and elder abuse, among other charges in connection with the Jan. 8 assault and subsequent burglary. He’s also been charged with robbery, child endangerment and receiving stolen property, among other charges, for three crimes he allegedly committed after the Jan. 8 attack.

The elderly victim suffered facial and skull fractures in the attack as well as a brain injury, according to prosecutors.

Outside of court, the victim’s granddaughter Sassana Yee said her grandmother remains hospitalized:

“This has been a very trying time for our family, as our beloved grandmother remains in critical but stable condition. … Our family continues to be moved by the generous outpouring of support of our family and our grandmother.”

According to court documents, officers learned about the assault after neighbors of the 88-year-old woman called police upon seeing an unknown man, later identified as Gathron, exiting the home in the 1000 block of Visitacion Avenue.

Once at the house, officers found the door unlocked with the victim nowhere to be found.

With help from the victim’s brother in-law, officers found her at a nearby park, the Visitacion Valley Children’s Play Area, lying on her back in a sandbox, unconscious and bleeding from her head, face and nose. Prosecutors alleged in court documents that after beating the victim, Gathron dragged her to the sandbox and then tried to conceal her body with a garbage can.

At the scene, investigators were able to find DNA evidence. They also recovered the victim’s cane from the roof of a building next to the park, where prosecutors allege Gathron threw it.

As investigators were seeking to identify the suspect in the days after the attack, they learned about a Jan. 16 carjacking near Sawyer Street and Visitacion Avenue.

In that case, a suspect allegedly pointed a pistol at the back of the head of the driver of a parked Jeep Cherokee and demanded the keys before driving away. The Jeep was found later that day abandoned at a gas station on San Bruno Avenue.

Using surveillance video from the gas station, investigators were able to identify Gathron as the suspect.

Days later, on Jan. 19, officers learned about two robberies, both involving juvenile female victims.

In the first, a suspect riding a bicycle rode up to a 14-year-old girl and pointed a gun at her near Woolsey and University streets. The suspect then took her phone and purse and rode off.

About two hours later, at St. Charles and Belle avenues, a suspect on a bicycle matching the description of the first robbery suspect allegedly rode up to a 16-year-old girl and snatched her phone away. When the girl tried to grab him, he allegedly punched her in the face and rode off, according to court documents.

Officers were able to track one of the stolen cellphones to Heritage and Schwerin streets, where they noticed Gathron and, after a foot chase, arrested him.

Around the same time, results from DNA collected from the scene of the Jan. 8 attack came back, matching that of Gathron, police said. Gathron, a San Francisco resident, is being represented by the Public Defender’s Office. He remains jailed without bail and is set to return to court Tuesday for a detention hearing.

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