A well-known magician allegedly fired a threatening shot from a pistol during an argument in July with his wife because he believed she was having an affair, according to a Sheriff’s Department report.
Claude Yarbrough —whose stage name is Jonathan Pendragon — fired a shot into the floor of the couple’s home in Arroyo Grande on July 8 after accusing his wife of more than 30 years, Charlotte, of having an affair, the report states.
The magician’s attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, said that Yarbrough is clinically depressed, and the shooting incident combined with marital difficulties was a “perfect storm for a collision of emotions.”
“My client loves and respects this woman ... who he has been married to for more than 30 years,” Funke-Bilu said. “He has been diagnosed with depression, and he’s making substantial progress toward healing.”
Yarbrough, 56, is in custody in County Jail in lieu of posting $1 million bail, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
He is accused of felony charges of assault on a person using a firearm, making terrorist threats and discharging a firearm in a negligent manner.
The performer also faces a misdemeanor charge of contempt of court for allegedly violating a protective order by returning to his home on Aug. 1 after posting bail of $100,000.
Yarbrough has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
After his second arrest, Judge John Trice initially ruled that Yarbrough be held without bail before setting the amount to $1 million for his alleged contempt-of-court violation.
The magician and his 55-year-old wife are an award-winning illusionists who have appeared in shows worldwide, including “World’s Greatest Magic” specials that have aired on national television.
On the show “America’s Got Talent,” Yarbrough revealed that an arrow had nearly killed him by piercing his torso while he was preparing for a magic act; he showed the audience a large scar on his chest before performing a disappearing act.
In the sheriff’s report, Claude and Charlotte Yarbrough gave differing statements with some similar details about their altercation.
Charlotte Yarbrough said that her husband suspected her of having an affair and was “obsessing with this idea.”
“(Claude) Yarbrough put her on the ground and had slapped her many times, causing a bruised right eye,” Deputy Trevor McKim reported after interviewing her. “I looked at victim’s right eye and could see a bruising over the eye.”
McKim said that Charlotte Yarbrough told him her husband threw a bottle of vaginal cream at her and asked her what it was for — thinking it was indicative of her having an affair.
“(Claude) Yarbrough then slapped her across the face, went and got a gun from underneath one of the pillows and returned to ... where the victim was sitting,” McKim wrote.
Claude Yarbrough then allegedly fired a round at the victim’s feet before she ran out of the room and called 911.
Officers found a spent casing in the bedroom where the alleged incident occurred.
Claude Yarbrough acknowledged to authorities that he thought his wife was having an affair. He said that she also spent $300,000 of his money and then later told a deputy she spent $800,000, according to the report.
Claude Yarbrough reportedly told police that he threatened to kill himself before shooting at the floor; then his wife grabbed her phone and ran out of the bedroom.
Funke-Bilu said he thinks his client’s mental illness — which is being treated now by San Luis Obispo psychiatrist David Fennell — mitigates the circumstances of the alleged crime; he added that Yarbrough didn’t have “any criminal record whatsoever” before the incident.
“I think everyone wants to get him treated so something like this never happens again,” Funke-Bilu said.
Unless a plea agreement is reached, a trial is scheduled to take place in March, according to the District Attorney’s Office.