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Citra man accused of hitting man in the head with a ball-peen hammer

Jeffrey R. Betterton

A Citra man arrested in December on domestic abuse charges went back to jail last Monday after he allegedly hit another man over the head with a hammer during a dispute over money.

Jeffrey R. Betterton, 46, of 5698 NE 168th Lane, was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and possession of drug equipment. Betterton was previously arrested in December for allegedly pushing a woman down and threatening her with a baseball bat when she wouldn’t let him use her vehicle to go buy drugs.

A Marion County sheriff’s deputy arrived at the victim’s residence at around 6 p.m. and found the victim holding Betterton down on the ground. The deputy handcuffed Betterton and placed him in a patrol vehicle. During a pat down, Betterton told the deputy he had a marijuana pipe, according to the sheriff’s office report.

The victim said he was in his truck, pulling out of his driveway, when Betterton drove towards him at a high speed and almost crashed into his vehicle. The victim said he got out of his truck to see what was going on and Betterton immediately pulled out a ball-peen hammer and struck him in the head, the report said.

The victim said he and Betterton started fighting on the ground and he was able to secure Betterton until the deputy arrived. The deputy observed a large knot of the left side of the victim’s head, just above the ear. The victim also had a ripped shirt and blood on his face. The deputy observed the victim’s tire tracks leaving his residence, then top in the middle of the road at the end of his driveway, according to the report.

A witness, who was in the truck with Betterton, said Betterton went to the victim’s house because the victim owed him money. He said they drove past the house a couple of times before pulling in front of the victim as he was pulling out of the driveway. The witness said Betterton and the victim started to fight. He added that he didn’t see the victim get hit with the hammer and only witnessed the events leading up to it, the report said.

Betterton first told the deputy that the victim was on top of him, hitting him in the back of the head, and he was able to grab a hammer and hit the victim. That story was not consistent with the victim being on top of Betterton and being hit in the back of the head, according to the report.

Betterton later said he went to the victim’s residence because the victim owes him thousands of dollars. He said he was able to find out where the victim lives by asking around. Betterton said when he stopped in front of the house, the victim got out of his vehicle and pulled him out of his vehicle. He said he was able to grab a hammer from his center console and hit the victim in the head, the report said.

The deputy asked Betterton if he planned on fighting the victim due to him driving past the house multiple times and having a hammer in his center console. Betterton said he has tools all over his vehicle and gave the deputy permission to search the vehicle, but the only tool found was a wrench on the backseat floorboard, according to the report.

Betterton recanted the statement about the victim being on top of him and hitting him on the back of the head. He also said this wouldn’t be the end of his altercations with the victim, the report said.

The deputy searched Betterton and found a rubber smoking pipe in his left pocket. The residue in the pipe tested positive for marijuana. Betterton was taken to the Marion County Jail, where he’s being held on $21,000 bond. He’ll appear in Marion County Court on April 28.

Photos in Ocala, Florida

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