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Praying COVID-19 patient, 82, is bludgeoned to death at Lancaster hospital

The LA Times logo The LA Times 12/23/2020 Lila Seidman
a train is parked on the side of a road: Exterior of Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, where one patient beat another patient to death, authorities said. (Google) © (Google) Exterior of Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, where one patient beat another patient to death, authorities said. (Google)

A COVID-19 patient beat a fellow patient to death with an oxygen tank last week at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, authorities said.

The victim, an 82-year-old Latino man, was being treated for a COVID-19 infection in a two-person room with suspect Jesse Martinez, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Martinez, 37, reportedly became upset when the victim, a Catholic, started to pray. He then struck his octogenarian roommate with an oxygen tank just before 10 a.m. Thursday, the Sheriff's Department said.

The victim died the following morning from his injuries. According to the Sheriff’s Department, the two men did not know each other.

Martinez was arrested at the scene after hospital staff detained him, according to Lt. Brandon Dean, a spokesman with the Sheriff's Department. He was charged with murder, with an enhancement for elder abuse and religion-motivated hate crime. His bail is set at $1 million and he's due to appear in court Monday.

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said in a statement that he was "shocked and saddened" by the news.

"These families were already experiencing a hardship and now this — it's senseless," he said.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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