David Hernandez-Garcia, 82, was being treated for COVID-19 at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, California. Hernandez-Garcia was placed in a shared room with 37-year-old Jesse Martinez, who was also being treated for COVID.
Hernandez-Garcia was reportedly a devout Catholic, and with those who are devout, praying is part of the normal structure of their lives.
On Thursday, December 17, he awoke in the morning and began to pray. Instead of receiving comfort and healing, he received a blow to his head with an oxygen tank from his roommate.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s alert read,
“Detectives have learned that the victim was at Antelope Valley Hospital receiving treatment for Covid-19. He was housed in a two-person room inside the hospital with the suspect, who was also there receiving treatment. The suspect became upset when the victim started to pray. He then struck the victim with an oxygen tank.
“The victim succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased on December 18, 2020 at approximately 10:20 a.m. The victim and suspect did not know each other.
“The suspect, 37 year-old Jesse Martinez, was arrested and charged with murder, a hate crime enhancement and elder abuse. His bail is set at $1,000,000.”
This crime was not widely reported until December 23, and has pretty much been lost in the shuffle of election challenge news and the general COVID hysteria that blankets this state. It is a truly horrible event at any time of the year, but especially at Christmastime.
The investigation is obviously ongoing, but I have questions. Why would you place a young COVID patient with an elderly person? Does Martinez have a history of prior elder abuse? An elderly man was receiving treatment for COVID, and was assaulted and murdered in cold blood over a prayer? What was Martinez’s mental state before the attack?
Herein lies an additional problem with the COVID surge happening in California and this push toward hospitalizations rather than early treatment with proven therapeutics like hydroxychloroquine and Remdesivir. Many minority and low-income people cannot afford a private room, so they are placed with someone who could be a potential danger to them because of their overriding health issues, whether physical or mental. COVID did not ultimately kill David Hernandez-Garcia, but the poor management of this virus caused him to be placed in a vulnerable position where he suffered an assault in a place where he should have been safe.
According to the Antelope Valley Press, Martinez was supposed to be arraigned on Monday, but the date was moved because… COVID. A criminal who assaulted a helpless old man is receiving more attention and treatment than David Hernandez-Garcia.
“Jesse Martinez, 37, is charged with murder, elder or dependent adult abuse resulting in death, and a hate crime allegation. Martinez was unable to come to court for medical reasons, and his arraignment was rescheduled for Dec. 31, according to a court clerk.
“Martinez is presumably in quarantine for the coronavirus and sheriff’s jail records indicate that he is being held at Twin Towers Correctional Facility downtown in lieu of $1 million bail.
“He could face up to 28 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.”
“He could“, but the odds are good that Martinez will simply get a walk. With Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon at the helm, and his new “reforms” in place, the murder charge against him may not receive any hate crime enhancements, and who knows whether bail will even be enforced. All-in-all, it will not be a Happy New Year for the family of David Hernandez-Garcia.
COVID coupled with crime has become a deadly combination in Los Angeles.