Man charged with murder in case of assault on elderly SLO woman

Thomas Terrell

A 56-year-old San Luis Obispo man is now facing a murder charge stemming from an incident last year in which he allegedly barged into the home of an 82-year-old woman and repeatedly punched her. The elderly woman died a couple months following the attack.

On the night of Sept. 12, 2017, Louise Jean Villa heard a commotion outside the front door of her home in a downtown SLO residential building. Villa went to check on the noise, and when she opened the door, Thomas David Terrell pushed his way inside, forced the woman on the ground and began punching her, police said.

Several neighbors heard Villa’s screams and came to help. The neighbors managed to stop the attack and restrain Terrell until police arrived.

An ambulance transported Villa to the hospital, where she received treatment for lacerations and a concussion. A couple days following the attack, police said Villa had been released from the hospital.

However, Villa died on Nov. 9, of what prosecutors say was the result of injuries she suffered during the attack.

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office last week charged Terrell with murder. Terrell is also facing charges of burglary, assault, elder abuse and criminal threats.

On Tuesday, Terrell pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in San Luis Obispo Superior Court. He will now undergo mental competency tests.

Currently, Terrell remains in custody in the San Luis Obispo County Jail.