Jesse Martinez, 37, was charged with murder by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after he beat his 82-year-old hospital roommate to death with his oxygen tank on December 17, police said. According to a press release from the sheriff’s department, the two were sharing a hospital room while receiving treatment for COVID-19 at the Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, California.
Police said that the incident occurred after Martinez got angry over his roommate’s prayers: “The suspect became upset when the victim started to pray. He then struck the victim with an oxygen tank,” the press release said. The victim, whose name has not been released to the public, died of his injuries the following day. Police also stated in the press release that the suspect and the victim did not know each other prior to being assigned to the same room in the hospital.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigation into the killing is ongoing. Investigators has asked anyone with information about the incident to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500 or anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).
Martinez Was Charged With Murder, Elder Abuse & a Hate Crime Enhancement
Martinez was arrested at 7 p.m. on December 17 and booked on December 18, public records show. According to the Los Angeles Times, sheriff’s department spokesperson Lieutenant Brandon Dean said Martinez was detained by hospital staff at the scene, and police officers then arrested him. The 37-year-old was charged with murder with enhancements for elder abuse and a religiously motivated hate crime, the police press release stated. The victim’s identity has not been provided, but police said he was a Hispanic male and Catholic.
Martinez is being held at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles on a $1 million bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for December 28 at the Antelope Valley Court, public records with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department show.
The mayor of Lancaster, R. Rex Parris, issued a statement saying he was “shocked and saddened” at the news of the hospital killing. “These families were already experiencing a hardship and now this — it’s senseless,” Parris added, the Times reported.
California’s COVID-19 Tally Recently Passed 2 Million Confirmed Cases & Los Angeles County Hospitals Are Struggling With Capacity
On December 24, California became the first state to surpass 2 million confirmed cases, and the state’s public health department said its hospitals were full. In a statement on that date, the department of public health in California said, “Hospitals are full, ICU beds are few, people are dying. The simplest thing we can do, but also the most significant, is to stay home.”
The latest numbers reported by the state on December 25 indicated that there were 39,144 new cases reported for a total of 2,042,290 confirmed cases, and 312 new deaths reported for a total of 213,947 fatalities.
On December 25, the New York Times reported that Los Angeles County had roughly 6,500 people in hospitals, which is a fourfold increase since November 25. The number of patients in ICU has doubled in the past month and it’s now close to 1,300, the outlet wrote, with many hospitals now over capacity. On Thursday, the county reported 148 new deaths, which is its highest daily total since the start of the pandemic.