Former Atascadero mayoral candidate will go to trial on domestic violence charges

An Atascadero arborist who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2014 will stand trial for domestic violence and other charges stemming from a four-hour standoff with police in January, a San Luis Obispo Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.

Charles John Scovell II, 37, faces seven felony charges, including inflicting corporal injury on a spouse, assault with a deadly weapon, threats to commit violence, false imprisonment and dissuading a witness. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Scovell was arrested Jan. 15, when Atascadero police went to his home on a report that he was throwing beer bottles and physically assaulting a woman outside, Atascadero police said at the time.

When officers arrived at the home in the 1500 block of El Camino Real, Scovell ran inside the house, leaving the alleged victim on the ground, police said. He refused to come out, and police surrounded the home when the woman told police that he might be armed.

Scovell’s mother was also inside the home and was either unwilling or unable to cooperate with police, according to the department. Police closed El Camino Real and Carrizo Road near the home, and a sheriff’s SWAT team was called in.

Eventually, Scovell’s attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, went to the scene and persuaded his client to come out about four hours after the incident began.

On Thursday, Scovell waived his right to a preliminary hearing, where Scovell could have called witnesses on his behalf for a judge to determine whether enough evidence exists to hold him to answer all charges. Superior Court Judge Michael Duffy ruled the case would move forward.

Mr. Scovell’s got some serious problems, I won’t make light of that. You take (substance abuse) out of his life and he’s the nicest guy in the world.

Defense attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu

Funke-Bilu asked Duffy to reduce Scovell’s bail — which has been set at $500,000 since his arrest — saying that Scovell has family here and is not a flight risk.

“Mr. Scovell’s got some serious problems. I won’t make light of that,” Funke-Bilu said, referring to alcohol and drugs. “You take those (substances) out of his life, and he’s the nicest guy in the world.”

It’s really rare to have someone with so many allegations against them.

San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Michael Duffy

Duffy, however, noted that Scovell has several pending criminal cases from the past two years and denied the motion.

“The time you’ve been in custody has been the longest you’ve gone without (an arrest),” Duffy said. “It’s really rare to have someone with so many allegations against them.”

Scovell was arrested in March 2015 on suspicion of felony DUI and felony hit-and-run when he crashed his car into a tree, injuring his passenger, and then tried to leave the scene before being taken into custody, according to Tribune archives. That case is among several pending.

His criminal record at San Luis Obispo Superior Court includes a series of minor offenses in his late teens and early 20s, ranging from possessing alcohol as a minor in 1998 to reckless driving in 2000. Some of the offenses were dismissed or were later expunged from his record.

Scovell ran unsuccessfully for mayor in the November 2014 general election against incumbent Tom O’Malley, securing more than 40 percent of the vote to O’Malley’s 59 percent.

Duffy scheduled a second arraignment in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on April 7.

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