At about 2 a.m. on July 17, William Lawton called police and reported that he had been in a car crash and that his father had been attacked in the mountains west of Elsinore before the crash, according to a probable cause statement.
Lawton took police to the spot on the mountain where he said the attack had happened. There, police found the body of James Lawton, had been attacked with "multiple weapons," court documents state, with several post-mortem injuries.
Investigators said evidence at the scene "did not support" the son's story.
In interviews with police, Lawton's mother said her husband and son went to Richfield about 10:30 p.m. on July 16. A few hours later, William Lawton returned home with blood on his hands and clothes, according to his mother's statements to police. He was carrying a spool of twine similar to that found by police at the crime scene, court documents state.
William Lawton had a history of violence against his father, a search of court records shows. In 2010, Lawton pleaded guilty to class B misdemeanor counts of assault and theft, admitting that he threw things at his father and stole a radio from him.
Police said there was "evidence of a current dispute" between Lawton and his father at the time of the slaying.