SLO man pleads no contest to choking 90-year-old woman

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comApril 10, 2013 

A San Luis Obispo man who beat and choked a 90-year-old woman unconscious pleaded no contest Wednesday to attempted murder.

As part of the plea, Brennen Fulfer, 26, will receive a 13-year prison term, according to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.

On Aug. 14, 2009, Fulfer showed up at the San Luis Obispo Police Department, where he told police, “I think I just killed someone.” Then he said he had attacked a stranger inside her mobile home near the Laguna Lake Golf Course.

According to court testimony, Fulfer had experienced homicidal thoughts for weeks prior to the incident and laid out a plan to commit a murder. After breaking into Mildred Maddelein’s residence, he struck her several times and attempted to smother her with an American flag before choking her unconscious.

The victim was saved by her Life Alert device.

At the police station, Fulfer expressed remorse, saying, “My life is over. I’m just glad she didn’t die.”

Maddelein survived the attack but has since died of health reasons unrelated to the incident.

Fulfer, a former Cuesta College student, has a developmental disability, though experts disagree on whether it’s autism or Asperger's syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. While his attorney questioned his ability to understand the charges and assist his defense, a jury found him competent to stand trial in September.

The case dragged on for nearly four years — and dozens of hearings — because the issue of autism and competency was rare and difficult to debate.

Fulfer will be formally sentenced June 12.

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