The man died the next day, not from a virus that’s killed more than 325,000 Americans but from a fellow covid patient in his own hospital room.
Police said Wednesday that Martinez was arrested and charged with murder, elder abuse and a hate crime enhancement. The victim has yet to be publicly identified.
The incident comes as hospitals in California are struggling to keep up with incoming cases as the state emerges as the new epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus crisis. The number of hospitalizations in California have jumped 21 percent from last week, according to The Washington Post’s coronavirus tracker. Los Angeles County, which includes Lancaster, is responsible for about a third of the state’s cases. On Wednesday, the county recorded more than 6,800 hospitalizations, according to the state’s covid dashboard.
The investigation into Martinez’s alleged actions are ongoing, police said. The men did not know each other before sharing a room at the hospital and a motive is not immediately clear.
A representative for Antelope Valley Hospital did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris (R) said he was “shocked and saddened” to hear of the man’s death allegedly at the hands of another covid patient.
“These families were already experiencing a hardship and now this,” he said. “It’s senseless.”
Martinez is being held at the Twin Tower Correctional Facility, inmate records show. His bond is set at $1 million, according to police. He is scheduled to appear in Antelope Valley Court on Dec. 28. It is not immediately clear whether Martinez has an attorney.