Two brothers who own an Oldtown Salinas restaurant face attempted murder charges for allegedly beating a homeless man who upset them by hanging around their business into a coma.
Robert DeLeon, 43, and brother James DeLeon, 32, owners of the XL Grindhouse restaurant at 129 Main St., pleaded not guilty to multiple charges Tuesday in Superior Court.
A preliminary hearing was tentatively set for Dec. 21 with a scheduling hearing Dec. 19.
The two were arrested Nov. 21 by Salinas police after the 55-year-old victim fell into a coma at a San Francisco Bay Area hospital from severe head injuries allegedly suffered in a beating Oct. 11 near the restaurant.
Detectives had learned the brothers were angry with the man for "continuous loitering" around the eatery, a police press release said.
Robert DeLeon is charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon — a bat — and enhancements charging use of a weapon and inflicting great bodily injury, said Chief Assistant District Attorney Terry Spitz.
James DeLeon is charged with attempted murder and assault by means to cause great bodily injury, he said.
Both men have been in Monterey County Jail since their arrests, with their bails set at $880,000 and $500,000, their attorneys said.
An attorney for James DeLeon on Wednesday said, "Everybody describes James as a nonviolent and honorable man." Attorney Juliet Peck said her client is a respected business owner and member of the community.
She wouldn't comment on the case, saying, "We are conducting our own investigation.
Angela DeLeon, a sister of the two and the restaurant manager, said business has been good since news broke of her brothers' arrests.
"There has been a lot of support," she said.
Angela DeLeon said she is confident that her brothers have been wrongly accused and "everything is going to be fine."
Peck said the brothers opened the restaurant about two years ago and are committed to helping develop the Oldtown business district.
"(James) is very appreciative of the outpouring of support from the community," she said.
Brian Worthington, attorney for Robert DeLeon, said his client is not a violent individual and has treated transients who regularly frequent the Oldtown area well, giving them water and food at times.
"Everything I have found out is that he has had a good relationship and treated them like human beings and not a blight on the community," Worthington said.
He said the defense is just starting its investigation, and Robert DeLeon maintains his innocence.
"He maintains that he was not involved in this as the police are making it out to be," Worthington said.
Larry Parsons can be reached at 646-4379 or firstname.lastname@example.org.