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.


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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