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A man was in custody Wednesday following his arrest for allegedly killing a fellow patient with an oxygen tank at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, where both men were being treated for COVID-19, authorities said.

Jesse Martinez, 37, was booked on suspicion of murder and his bail was set at $1 million, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Martinez has been charged with murder, a hate crime enhancement, and elder abuse, according to the sheriff’s department, which reported that he is scheduled to appear in Antelope Valley Court on Monday.

The crime occurred about 9:45 a.m. Dec. 17 at the facility, where both men were being treated for COVID-19, the sheriff’s department reported.

“(The victim) was housed in a two-person room inside the hospital with the suspect, who was also there receiving treatment,” a sheriff’s department statement said. “The suspect became upset when the victim started to pray. He then struck the victim with an oxygen tank.”

The name of the 82-year-old victim, who died the following day, was withheld, pending notification of his relatives.

The victim and suspect did know one another, the sheriff’s department reported.

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By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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