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Carjacking suspect appears in court; elderly assault victim still recovering in hospital

Bail was set at $500,000 for a man accused of assaulting an 84-year-old woman in Yelm, then carjacking a witness and leading police on a high-speed chase.

Lane Gary Bennett, 46, appeared in Thurston County Superior Court for a preliminary hearing Monday. The court made a finding of probable cause, and Bennett’s arraignment date will be determined.

Although he was arrested Aug. 4, Bennett had been hospitalized for a kidney ailment unrelated to the arrest, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Department. He was booked into county jail Aug. 9. Bennett faces multiple charges including assault, attempted robbery, eluding police and attempted vehicle theft.

“Mr. Bennett has a criminal history which includes 34 – yes, I said 34 – convictions,” said Judge James Dixon upon setting the state’s requested bail amount Monday.

According to court papers, Bennett is accused of trying to steal the car of an 84-year-old woman in the parking area of Yelm Prairie Lanes around 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 4, punching the woman repeatedly and leaving her laying on the pavement. Police say he then stole the truck of a witness who stopped to help, leading officers on a pursuit that reached 90 mph and ended in Olympia.

Surveillance footage obtained by Yelm police shows a man opening the passenger door of the victim’s vehicle, then climbing inside and punching her repeatedly, according to a statement of probable cause. The report said the suspect had demanded the victim’s car keys, but she refused. After punching the victim, the suspect dragged her out the driver’s side door, then dropped her on the pavement, according to the document.

The victim of the assault, Mavis McDonald, is still recovering at Providence St. Peter Hospital, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office. She suffered injuries to her arms, hands, legs, face, neck and head, and has been kept under close observation at the hospital because of bleeding in her brain.

. According to documents, a sheriff’s detective stopped the stolen vehicle with a “pit maneuver” on Friendly Grove Road Northeast. The suspect tried to flee on foot before he was tased by law enforcement officers and arrested, according to documents.

Right before his arrest, the suspect had attempted to back up over the top of a detective’s vehicle, and also attempted to carjack another vehicle, said Sgt. Ray Brady of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

“It was a bit of a struggle before we finally apprehended him,” Brady said. “This guy is very dangerous to be out on the streets.”

An online donation drive called “Help Mavis with medical bills” at gofundme.com has raised $550 as of Monday afternoon toward a goal of $1,000. A donation box has also been set up at Yelm Prairie Lanes.

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