A man accused of breaking into an 86-year-old Riverside woman’s home and beating her unconscious before ransacking the residence is an ex-con with a history of similar crimes, court records showed Wednesday.
Jose Rafael Cardenas, 24, is charged with one count each of robbery, forcible assault and gang activity, three counts of burglary and sentence-enhancing allegations of committing great bodily injury on a person over 70 years old.
Cardenas, who was arrested Friday and entered a not-guilty plea on Tuesday, is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.
His next court hearing is Oct. 2.
According to the Riverside Police Department, the victim was in her single-story house in the 4200 block of Eileen Street, in central Riverside, when she was attacked by a burglar around 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 12.
The suspect struck the woman, whose identity was not released, until she blacked out and collapsed on the floor. As the man began tearing through her belongings, one of her relatives walked into the house, frightening the burglar who bolted out the back door, police said.
The woman was hospitalized for several days, but has since returned home and is recuperating.
A few hours after the break-in, another burglary was reported at a house in the 4200 block of Canterbury Road, about a block away.
“The investigation showed the two crimes were in fact linked and committed by the same person,” Sgt. David Amador said.
He said fingerprints and other physical evidence collected at the two crime scenes pointed to Cardenas as the prime suspect.
On Friday afternoon, investigators tracked him down driving near his residence at Mescale Road and California Avenue — roughly three blocks from where the burglaries occurred. After a brief, slow-speed pursuit, the defendant surrendered, according to Amador.
Riverside County Superior Court records revealed Cardenas has been in trouble with the law since at least 2007. What, if any, juvenile crime record he might have could not be confirmed.
According to court documents, he was charged with three separate burglaries in 2007 and 2008, but pleaded down to one, resulting in a 16-month prison sentence handed down in October 2008. He was also convicted of felony theft in December 2011, but under a plea deal, received a year of supervised release.
At the time of his arrest for the attack on the 86-year-old woman, Cardenas was facing charges of felony drug possession and distribution stemming from an arrest in June. He was free on $30,000 while awaiting disposition of that case, records show.