LOS ANGELES — A transient has been ordered to stand trial on charges of false imprisonment by violence and making a criminal threat for an alleged attack last month on “NCIS” actress Pauley Perrette near her Hollywood home.
Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Kristi Lousteau ordered David Merck, 45, not to have any contact with Perrette, who was accompanied into a downtown Los Angeles courtroom by uniformed Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies along with several men in suits Dec. 2.
The 46-year-old actress wiped her eyes at points during the hearing in which she identified Merck as the man who attacked her around 5 p.m. on Nov. 12.
She said that she and her assailant were the only two people on the sidewalk late that afternoon and that he “appeared to be homeless.”
Perrette — who plays forensic scientist Abby Sciuto on the CBS series — testified that her assailant grabbed her by the arm and told her repeatedly that he was going to kill her.
“He was so much stronger than me,” she said. “I couldn’t run. I couldn’t fight.”
The actress said that the man “kept repeating my name is William and I am going to kill you,” then hit her on the nose.
“I was praying my heart out,” she said, noting that she knew there was an empty garage behind her and that she was worried she would wind up dead if he got her inside the garage.
Perrette testified that she eventually spoke to the man, telling him that “William’s a very beautiful name.” She said she told him that she had a nephew named William and that he paused and then told her to get out of there.
She said police arrived quickly and she eventually was taken by police to identify Merck as her alleged assailant. She said he was sitting on an electrical box outside a 7-Eleven store and she was inside a police car when she identified him as the man who had attacked her.
“Are you able to recognize him as the person who threatened you?” Deputy District Attorney David Richman asked the actress about the defendant, who is jailed in lieu of $60,000 bail and was brought into court with his hands in handcuffs.
“Yes,” Perrette responded.
The court commissioner denied a request by Merck’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Christopher Glass, to dismiss or reduce the felony charges against Merck to misdemeanor counts. The defense lawyer contended that there was insufficient evidence to require his client to stand trial on the two charges.
Richman described Merck’s alleged contact with Perrette as “a very serious encounter” and said he believed the charges were “wholly appropriate.”
Merck is due back Dec. 16 for arraignment at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse.
Shortly after the attack, Perrette described the ordeal in a Twitter posting.
“Tonight was awful, life-changing and I’m only grateful to be alive. I almost died tonight,” she wrote. “I was walking across my street to a new guest house I bought to meet my architect. On my street, I was jumped by a very psychotic, homeless man.”
The actress wrote that she “was alone, terrified, trapped” and that she collapsed on the sidewalk and drew a sketch of her assailant after getting away from him. She wrote that a male friend took a photo of the sketch she had drawn, tracked down her alleged assailant and followed him until police arrived.
“I am shaken and traumatized,” she wrote. “My life changed tonight. We need full mental health care. We need housing and help for the homeless. We need to support our cops. We need to not walk alone. I need to heal.”
In a subsequent tweet Nov. 28, she wrote, “How am I doing? Thank you, so much. I’m O.K. Not great. Flashbacks, Nightmares. Trauma is a strange thing. Almost being killed, tough…”
If convicted as charged, Merck faces up to four years in prison.