Most charges dropped in Arroyo Grande kidnap case

Peter Hewitt, 82, agreed to plead no contest to disturbing the peace in the February incident

clambert@thetribunenews.comJune 8, 2010 

A judge Tuesday dismissed most of the charges against an 82-year-old Arroyo Grande man accused of kidnapping a 6-month-old girl earlier this year.

Instead, Peter Hewitt agreed to plead no contest to a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace for driving away in February with the daughter of Jennifer Kim, who had been staying in his home.

“It’s a big relief,” Hewitt said after Tuesday’s hearing. 

Hewitt will serve one year of informal probation — meaning he doesn’t have to check in with a probation officer — and must stay at least 50 yards away from Kim.

San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Michael Duffy also suspended a $500 fine as long as Hewitt does not violate his probation. A no-contest plea results in a conviction without an admission of guilt.

Hewitt was arrested in February on suspicion of kidnapping, child endangerment and resisting arrest after he grabbed the keys to his van from Kim, Grover Beach police said, and drove away with her baby.

Kim flagged down a man who was shopping at Vons, and he drove her to Hewitt’s home in Arroyo Grande.

When police arrived, they kicked in a side garage door and found the girl with Hewitt in his garage and returned her safely to Kim.

“At the end of the day, we felt we were in a position where he was innocent of all charges,” said Guy Galambos, Hewitt’s current attorney. “I’m personally disappointed that there wasn’t a complete dismissal of all charges.”

Prosecutors asked to add the disturbing-the-peace charge because Hewitt “wasn’t completely cooperative with the police when he should have been,” District Attorney’s Office spokesman Jerret Gran said.

Further investigation into what happened Feb. 9 gave prosecutors an idea of why Hewitt left the supermarket with the baby, Gran said.

“It was basically a family-type relationship,” he said. “He wasn’t approving of how late it was … so he was taking the child home.”

Prosecutors found an “absence of malice” in Hewitt’s actions, Gran said.

Jeffrey Stein, Hewitt’s former attorney, said in February that Kim had been staying with Hewitt temporarily. They reportedly met at the Nipomo Community Presbyterian Church and had a supportive, platonic friendship.

Hewitt agreed to let Kim stay with him, Stein said, and gave her several thousand dollars.

Hewitt said Monday that he was lonely after the death of his wife of 60 years, and helping Kim “seemed like the right thing to do.” 

“It was a costly learning experience,” Hewitt said. “I hope people may learn to be more cautious than I was.”

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.

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