COVID-19 patient charged with murder in deadly beating of fellow patient at Lancaster hospital

LANCASTER, Calif. (KABC) -- A COVID-19 patient accused of beating a fellow patient to death inside Antelope Valley Hospital has been charged with murder, authorities said Wednesday.

The gruesome murder happened the morning of Dec. 17. Investigators say 37-year-old Jesse Martinez beat his 82-year-old roommate at the Lancaster facility, where both men were being treated for COVID-19.

"The suspect became upset when the victim started to pray. He then struck the victim with an oxygen tank," a sheriff's department statement said.

The victim, who did not personally know the suspect, died the day after the attack, officials added.

Martinez is facing the murder charge with a hate crime enhancement and elder abuse. His bail was set at $1 million and he is scheduled to appear in Antelope Valley Court on Monday.

Experts say there is little the hospital could have done to prevent the violence, given how stretched thin all staff members are and with COVID-19 limiting the ability of security or staffers to rush into the room.
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