Man charged with murder after oxygen tank bludgeoning of 82-year-old COVID-19 patient inside shared hospital room

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Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster is seen in a file photo. (KTLA)

(KTLA) – A man who was hospitalized in Los Angeles County with COVID-19 has been charged with fatally bludgeoning an 82-year-old fellow patient with an oxygen tank while sharing a room with him, officials said Thursday.

Jesse Martinez, 37, is facing one count each of murder, elder abuse resulting in death and a hate crime allegation, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Martinez was taken to Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster on the morning of Dec. 17 and placed in the COVID-19 ward. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has said Martinez was sharing a room with 82-year-old David Hernandez-Garcia and allegedly got upset when Garcia began to pray.

Prosecutors accused Martinez of bludgeoning Hernandez-Garcia several times with an oxygen tank. The octogenarian died the next day.

Martinez was scheduled for arraignment Thursday afternoon at the Antelope Valley Branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.

If convicted as charged, he faces a possible maximum sentence of 28 years to life in state prison.

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