Sign at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster. Courtesy OnScene.TV

A man is facing murder and other charges in the death of an 82-year-old fellow patient at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, where both men were being treated for COVID-19 when the victim was struck with an oxygen tank as he was praying.

Jesse Martinez, 37, is set to be arraigned Monday at the Lancaster courthouse on one count each of murder and elder or dependent adult abuse resulting in death, along with a hate crime allegation.

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.

The attack occurred about 9:45 a.m. Dec. 17, according to the sheriff’s department, which reported the two men did not know each other prior to being admitted to the hospital.

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

The name of the victim, who died the next morning, was being withheld pending notification of his relatives.

Martinez was arrested the day of the attack and has remained behind bars in lieu of $1 million bail since then, jail records show.

Updated at 2:55 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020

— City News Service

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