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October 24, 1986

A Ramona man pleaded guilty Thursday to placing a rattlesnake in a box and leaving it for his mother.

Marvin Howard Pruitt II, 28, pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon--the snake--upon Bernice Eldridge, 51, on Aug. 4.

Pruitt faces a maximum sentence of four years in state prison. San Diego Superior Court Judge J. Richard Haden set sentencing for Nov. 20 and dismissed an attempted murder charge.

Meanwhile, Pruitt's accomplice, David Paul Pocock, 19, of Ramona, pleaded innocent Wednesday to conspiracy to commit attempted murder, attempted murder, and assault with a deadly weapon.

Pocock is alleged to have captured the rattlesnake and helped Pruitt in cutting off its rattle before placing it in a box.

Pruitt's attorney, Ronald Brahms, said Pocock was the instigator in the entire incident.

Brahms subpoenaed Pocock at Pruitt's preliminary hearing in El Cajon Municipal Court on Sept. 9, but he refused to answer any questions by invoking the Fifth Amendment.

The mother testified her son left the box for her in her driveway, saying it contained pictures. She instead called sheriff's deputies after he left. A deputy found the snake inside the box.

Pocock's preliminary hearing was set for Nov. 7. Judge Charles Hayes allowed Pocock to remain free on his own recognizance on condition he have no contact with the victim.

Pruitt remains in county jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.

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