Attempt at candy theft becomes murder charge

first_imgPeterson, who is being held in lieu of $986,000 bail, is scheduled to be arraigned next month on one count of murder. His attorney, Tyson Beers, declined to comment on the case. Hairston, a Lancaster resident, was outside the Lancaster 99 Cents store July 14 collecting donations for a group that assists the homeless when Peterson, his girlfriend and another couple went inside the store, LaForteza said. Store employees saw them taking candy and tried to stop them, LaForteza said. “As Peterson goes into his car to try to drive away, and one of the employees tries to write down the license plate (number), the defendant backs up and nearly hits the employee,” LaForteza said. “Then the victim Hairston pushed a shopping cart into the car to stop it.” Peterson was angry and yelled at the victim as he drove off in his Dodge Neon, LaForteza said. Afraid that he would return, store staff members called sheriff’s deputies and saw Peterson stop across the street to look at the damage to his car, LaForteza said. A short time later, Peterson did return and got into an argument with Hairston over the car damage. He chased Hairston into the store and hurled a shopping cart that hit an employee, the prosecutor said. Peterson threw a container of carpet deodorizer at Hairston, hitting him in the back, and then picked up a glass jar of salsa, LaForteza said. “From 6 to 8 feet away, he throws it, very hard, and strikes the victim on the head,” LaForteza said. Deputies arrived and arrested Peterson, who four days later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor burglary and assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 30 days in jail and placed on three years’ probation. That night, Hairston declined medical treatment, but three days later went to a hospital complaining of a headache, LaForteza said. Doctors diagnosed him as having a subdural hematoma, or bruising inside his head, and said he needed surgery, LaForteza said. After saying he wanted to discuss the matter first with his family, Hairston underwent surgery on July 20, according to the prosecutor. He remained in the hospital until Aug. 2, when he died of complications of blunt-force head trauma, LaForteza said. The murder charge against Peterson was filed in February, according to court records. karen.maeshiro@dailynews.com (661) 267-5744 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! LANCASTER – The case of 18-year-old Joseph Peterson started out as a relatively minor affair involving the alleged theft of M&Ms and Twizzlers from a discount store – but ended up as murder, according to prosecutors. When the Lancaster man tried to flee after what police called a petty theft, Charles Hairston, a 51-year-old homeless group volunteer, tried to stop him. Peterson threw a bottle of salsa at him, hitting him in the head. Hairston died three weeks later. “It’s a sad story. (Hairston) was a good Samaritan who tried to help out, and unfortunately with these circumstances, he was killed,” Deputy District Attorney Bernie LaForteza said. last_img read more