Daniel Jordan DeWitt: charged with February 18 murder of Peter Cukor in the Berkeley hills

Daniel Jordan DeWitt, the 23-year old charged with murdering Peter Cukor, 67, outside his Berkeley Hills home on February 18, yesterday punched an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy and broke his jaw, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

DeWitt was being placed in waist and leg chains ahead of being transported to Napa State Hospital when he punched the deputy without warning at John George Psychiatric Pavilion in San Leandro.

DeWitt, who according to his family was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia five years ago, allegedly punched and kicked a nurse at the same psychiatric facility in 2010.

Sheriff’s Sgt. J.D. Nelson told the Chronicle: “Unfortunately, there are people in society who will strike out at a moment’s notice and for no reason. Those are the kind of people we have to deal with on a daily basis.”

Cukor was bludgeoned to death outside his home on Park Gate on the evening of February 18 after returning home with his wife and seeing a suspicious person loitering on this property.

DeWitt has been charged with murder, but an Alameda County Court Judge ruled in March that he was incompetent to stand trial and has ordered him to be committed to Napa State Hospital. Dewitt  has been in and out of mental hospitals since he was 18. DeWitt’s family has said they tried to get him repeatedly admitted for long-term treatment but DeWitt declined to receive it. Under California law, it is difficult to commit people to mental institutions without their consent.

Last month, Peter Cukor’s son Christopher Cuckor said: “Daniel DeWitt should have been locked up long ago – he was a clear danger to himself and others.” The Cukors called on Alameda County to adopt Laura’s Law which would make it easier to provide long-term treatment to those who need it.

Suspect not competent to stand trial in Cukor murder [03.22.12]
Murder suspect trial delayed for psychological assessment [02.24.12]
Alleged killer had been in and out of mental institutions [02.21.12]
Berkeley hills neighbors react with shock to brutal murder [02.20.12]
Intruder assaults, kills homeowner on Grizzly Peak [02.19.12]

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...