California COVID-19 patient fatally beats 82-year-old hospital roommate for praying, authorities say

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A coronavirus patient is accused of beating his 82-year-old hospital roommate to death with an oxygen tank in Lancaster, Calif., last week because he was upset with his Catholic prayers, according to authorities.

The victim shared a two-person room at Antelope Valley Hospital with the suspect, 37-year-old Jesse Martinez. They were both undergoing treatment for COVID-19, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The two did not know each other, but the elderly victim’s praying upset Martinez on the morning of Dec. 17, authorities said. The suspect is accused of grabbing an oxygen tank and pummeling the victim.

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The sheriff’s department said the investigation was ongoing and that it could not comment further.

Hospital workers detained Martinez at the scene until law enforcement arrived, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The 82-year-old was pronounced dead at 10:20 a.m. the next day. Authorities did not immediately release his name.

Martinez faces murder charges, with hate crime and elder abuse enhancements, according to investigators.

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His bail was set at $1 million, and he’s due in Antelope Valley Court on Monday.

Anyone with information on the incident was encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau or Crime Stoppers.

California announced more than 39,000 new Coronavirus cases Wednesday and 361 deaths, bringing the statewide totals to over 1.9 million cases and 23,000 fatalities.

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