Arraignment was rescheduled Monday to New Year’s Eve for a man accused of killing an 82-year-old fellow patient at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, where both men were being treated for COVID-19, by pummelling the victim with an oxygen tank as he was praying.
Jesse Martinez, 37, is charged with on one count each of murder and elder or dependent adult abuse resulting in death, along with a hate crime allegation. He was unable to come to court for medical reasons, and his arraignment was rescheduled for Dec. 31, according to a court clerk.
Martinez is presumably in quarantine for the virus and sheriff’s jail records indicate that he is being held at Twin Towers Correctional Facility downtown in lieu of $1 million bail.
He could face up to 28 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The attack occurred about 9:45 a.m. Dec. 17, according to the sheriff’s department, which reported the two men did not know each other prior to being admitted to the hospital.
“(The victim) was housed in a two-person room inside the hospital with the suspect, who was also there receiving treatment,” according to a sheriff’s statement. “The suspect became upset when the victim started to pray. He then struck the victim with an oxygen tank.”
The victim, David Hernandez-Garcia, was a Lancaster resident, according to the coroner’s office.
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