Gambling, Gold, and Attempted Murder

Maurice Joyles, Accused of Trying to Strangle His 80-Year-Old Friend, Appears in Court

Maurice Joyles appears in court on attempted murder and elder abuse charges
Paul Wellman

Maurice Joyles will answer to charges of attempted murder, robbery, and elder abuse Judge Barry Taylor ruled Monday during the preliminary hearing of a case filled with strange allegations and complex family-friend relationships.

Joyles, who authorities arrested on January 6, is accused of trying to strangle his former friend, 80-year-old Frank Herold, on New Year’s Eve with a large trash bag and then taking $500 dollars from his wallet. Joyles also reportedly stole gold and silver coins, gold nuggets, and jewels from Herold’s house months prior to the alleged attack.

But while Joyles’s public defender, Mark Owens, said the case is “fairly straightforward,” he said it is complicated by the “confusing dynamic” between the two men and the “bizarre accusations” involved.

As the single witness to take the stand Monday, Herold described an eight-year friendship with Joyles. He said he frequently had Joyles over for barbeques at his avocado ranch on Fairview Avenue and that he often went gambling with him. Joyles also lived at Herold’s grandniece’s house for an extended period of time when he worked for Santa Barbara Bank & Trust. He moved in with Herold for three months after the grandniece kicked him out.

“I didn’t charge him anything [for living in my house],” said Herold, who wore sunglasses and appeared calm on the stand. “I didn’t have any problems with him at all … and then I started seeing things disappear.” Herold said that he had returned from a vacation to find a 3.78-ounce gold nugget gone, along with a gold bar, diamond, and sapphire. Herold said he suspected Joyles took the belongings.

Joyles and Herold had a falling-out over the missing gold and jewels and stopped seeing each other until New Year’s Eve at around 7 p.m. Herold said that evening he had taken two shots of Old Grand-Dad whiskey and stepped outside to get wood for his stove when he was attacked from behind with a 30-gallon plastic garbage bag over his head.

Joyles and Herold struggled together for about 10 minutes, or what Herold said “felt like forever.” He said his beard helped him get his fingers under the bag to breathe and that Joyles struggled to get a firm grip because of the white cotton gloves he wore.

“Things were going through my mind that this was kind of an odd way to go, and then something came through my head and said, ‘You can’t die yet, you’re supposed to get a haircut,’” said Herold. “But then, all of a sudden, he just quit.”

Herold said Joyles took the bag off his head and released him. As Herold sat up, he said Joyles “started ranting and raving about it was all my fault that his situation with [my grandniece] had fallen apart and my fault that he couldn’t’ get a job.” He said Joyles did not appear intoxicated.

After a 30-minute conversation where Herold promised Joyles that he wouldn’t call the police or his grandniece, Joyles took $500 from Herold’s wallet and left. Five days later, Herold’s grandniece saw the scratches on his arms, got the story out of him, and convinced him to call police. The next day, Joyles was arrested at the Chumash Casino and held on $1 million bail.

Throughout Herold’s hour-long testimony, Joyles looked steadily at the stand and occasionally shook his head or raised his eyebrows at Herold’s accusations.

Joyles will appear back in court on March 10.


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