Sitting behind a glass partition wearing an orange jumpsuit and a chain around his waist in Orange County Jail, Joshua Waring smiled as he pulled a large paper photograph of his 4-year-old daughter out of a collapsible file.
The slightly worn picture, which shows the smiling girl dressed in a fairy costume, is one of Waring’s most prized possessions while behind bars. His phone calls with her are a bright spot in his otherwise bleak days, he said during a jailhouse interview Wednesday.
“I’ll have … days where I feel like this place is bearing down on me,” he said. “But when I talk to her, it just makes everything better. Her voice just melts my heart.”
Waring, son of former “Real Housewives of Orange County” star Lauri Peterson, has been in jail for 10 months in connection with a shooting in June outside a home in Costa Mesa that left a man severely injured.
Waring faces three counts of attempted murder, one count of unlawfully discharging a firearm at an inhabited dwelling, three counts of assault with a firearm, a count of vehicle theft, a count of shooting at another person from a motor vehicle and a count of evading police while driving recklessly, all felonies.
He also faces misdemeanor charges of battery, resisting an officer and hit-and-run with property damage, along with possible sentencing enhancements on allegations of personal use of a firearm and inflicting great bodily injury.
If he’s convicted at trial in Orange County Superior Court, Waring could end up in prison for the rest of his life.
The 28-year-old, who has represented himself through much of his criminal case, said he’s not afraid of going to trial.
“I’m not nervous because I’m innocent,” he said. “I didn’t do it.”
Waring was arrested June 20, hours after a shooting at a house in the 2900 block of Babb Street. The house, previously a sober-living home, was a place where drug use and other problems were common, witnesses have said.
Sometime after midnight, Waring drove a BMW X3 belonging to his girlfriend, Hayley, to the Babb Street house to pick up a friend whom he refers to as his “street sister.” The woman had called him to ask for a ride.
During Waring's preliminary hearing in November, a man identified in court transcripts as Ronald D. testified of becoming angry when he realized Waring was driving the BMW, and he threw the woman’s belongings into the street outside the house.
Someone threw the woman’s iPhone 6, which Waring said he had recently bought for her, and it smashed against the BMW’s window.
“We left and that was the end of that,” Waring said. He said he never returned to the house.
An hour or two later, Waring said, he received a news alert on his cellphone that a shooting had occurred on Babb Street.
A man identified in court papers as Daniel L. was wounded. He and Waring allegedly did not get along.
When Waring found out who was shot, his first thought was, “They’re going to think it’s me,” he said.
Authorities have painted a different picture. Witnesses told police that Waring returned to the house around 2:30 a.m. and that shots were fired at three people outside, authorities said.
During the preliminary hearing, witnesses described the gunfire and chaos.
"I turned and started to run the other direction, back toward the main house," a woman identified in the court transcript as Jennifer M. testified. "That walkway was like a shooting gallery. It was horrible."
About eight hours after the shooting, an Orange County Sheriff's Department helicopter crew saw the BMW and police pursued it through Santa Ana before it crashed into another vehicle, police said.
Santa Ana police said in court that Waring ran and hid in the restroom of a nearby business before surrendering to officers.
Waring testified that he fled from police because he was heading to pick up drugs.
Waring has a nearly decade-long criminal history in Orange County that includes convictions on felony drug charges and several misdemeanors, including hit-and-run in 2008, battery in 2009, possession of drug paraphernalia in 2009 and drug possession and resisting a peace officer in 2015.
Waring said he started drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana when he was 12. His struggle with drugs intensified in his teens and 20s and he began using cocaine, pills and eventually heroin, he said.
Waring's mother was a cast member of Bravo's reality TV series "The Real Housewives of Orange County" from its debut in 2006 until 2008.
Waring and his challenges with drugs were a recurring story line on the series. He said people know him as the “black sheep” of his family.
Waring said he’s anxious and socially awkward and that drugs provided an escape.
“The last 10 years of my life has been focused on how to be a criminal, stay on drugs and feel comfortable,” he said. “I don’t feel comfortable without being loaded.
“The show took my problems and put a bull’s eye on my back for law enforcement.”
Waring said he still gets cravings but has been off drugs for 10 months and wants to stay that way.
“I’m so far from perfect,” he said. “I have problems, but when I think about what I want for my future, I have no desire to do it anymore. I want my daughter back. I want to grab Hayley and run away.”
Waring’s mother has been caring for his daughter the past few years. The girl’s mother — Waring’s wife, Hannah Waring, 24 — is in Orange County Jail facing a felony robbery charge, according to court records.
As of late, Joshua Waring has spent the majority of his time focusing on his case.
He said a gunshot-residue test administered by police after his arrest could exonerate him. The test can determine whether a person has recently fired a gun based on residue left behind.
Waring said he’s confident the test, when processed, will show he did not fire the gun. He’s also agreed to submit to a polygraph test, though authorities have not been interested, he said.
Deputy Alternate Defender Ray Chen, who has represented Waring during some stages of his court proceedings, filed a motion Jan. 30 to delay the trial for several months to give him time to prepare Waring's defense.
Chen wrote in the filing that he “reasonably and strongly believes” that someone else who was at the house was responsible for the shooting.
Waring is due back in court for a pretrial hearing Thursday.
Waring said he’s not sure what happened that night on Babb Street but that he’s certain he wasn’t involved.
“I know myself and I know I wouldn’t do this,” he said.
Waring shuffled court documents and pulled another photo from the folder. It shows a cluster of St. Patrick’s Day gifts — stuffed animals and books — left on a doorstep for his daughter. Hayley put them together, he said.
“She’s just wondering why I can’t be there to give it to her,” he said of the girl. He brushed a tear from his cheek.
“It really sucks.”
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