San Luis Obispo man convicted for hitting, biting, choking woman

Defendant thought 26-year-old victim was police informant; also used stun gun

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comJanuary 30, 2013 

A San Luis Obispo man convicted of beating a woman he believed was a police informant was sentenced Wednesday to 39 years to life in prison.

Tommy S. Ledbetter, 49, hit, bit and choked the 26-year-old victim – whose name was redacted from court files – because he believed she had snitched on a heroin dealer in Atascadero, according to the transcript from previous court hearings. He also shocked her several times with a stun gun.

The woman, who was homeless, had gone to Ledbetter’s home to take a shower on March 30, 2011, not knowing that he had told others that he planned to kill her.

At the South Street apartment, he dumped her purse and said he saw two business cards from employees at the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, and then began hitting her. He also bit her on the cheek, choked her and shocked her six times with a stun gun, according to court testimony. Later, he told a friend at the residence to strangle the woman, but the friend wouldn’t do it.

The woman was later found walking through the neighborhood with lacerations and bruising on her head, chest and arms, according to police.

Ledbetter was arrested around midnight April 6, 2011 when officers saw him walking through a cemetery on South Higuera Street with methamphetamines.

The charge for which he was convicted – assault with a deadly weapon, resulting in great bodily injury – resulted in a hefty sentence due to several prior convictions.

Ledbetter, whose nickname was “Tennessee,” had priors that included assault with intent to commit rape, possession with intent to distribute, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and robbery from Oklahoma and Tennessee. 

The Tribune is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service