The mother of a disabled man who was fatally beaten in a road rage confrontation at a Riverside County intersection said she is relieved the suspect is "off the street."
Steven Joshua Lesher, 35, made his first court appearance Tuesday after he was arrested Friday in connection with the beating death of 55-year-old Jerry Lakes at a Riverside County intersection. Lesher, charged with murder, is accused of tailgating the driver and using his vehicle to block the disabled man's car before fatally beating him.
"It's just a relief to know he's off the street," said Lakes' mother, who asked not to be identified. "We're hoping he gets full punishment for what he did."
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Lesher's arraignment was re-scheduled for Feb. 10. Family members refused to discuss in detail the accusations against Lesher as they left court.
"Talk to the victim's family, they're not telling you guys the truth," a family member said.
The fatal confrontation, part of which was captured on security camera video, occurred Jan. 4 at the intersection of Skyview Drive and Avenue Juan Bautista. A driver in a Jeep Liberty who was tailgating Lakes on a two-lane road drove around him at an intersection and used his SUV to block Lakes' Ford Mustang.
Lakes, whose vehicle has handicap license plates because he suffered from a debilitating kidney condition, exited his vehicle and was struck in the head during a fight, family members said. The attacker left the location and Lakes drove home before going to a hospital, where he died Jan. 12 due to head injuries.
Family members told NBC4 the attacker used a racial slur during the altercation. Hate crime charges have not been filed, but prosecutors said charges could be amended, if warranted.
Authorities distributed a composite sketch last week of the attacker and handed out details about the case Sunday at an informational checkpoint near the site of the assault. The checkpoint and sketch helped lead to Lesher's arrest, police said.
The suspect's residence is just around the corner from the victim's residence, according to the victim's family.