FLINT, Mich. — A 91-year-old patient at a Michigan hospital was stabbed and beaten by a fellow patient on Good Friday and died on Easter Sunday, though his cause of death remains under investigation, authorities said.
Lemeer Rozier Bell, 25, is accused of beating the victim, Henry Henderson, with an IV pole and stabbing him in the right eye with the plastic IV catheter out of Bell’s arm, authorities said.
Bell has been charged with assault with the intent to murder, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said during a video news conference with Swanson on Wednesday. The sheriff appeared to be speaking from the Sheriff’s Office but due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements, Leyton joined the news conference via video from what appeared to be his home.
Watch the news conference below, courtesy of Mid-Michigan Now.
Bell faces up to life in prison if convicted of the assault with intent charge, the prosecutor said. He is also charged with attempted mayhem, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
“That (charge) is based on the manner in which he struck the victim with the IV pole and with the sharp needle, the protruding object, from the IV itself,” the prosecutor said.
Bell remains in the hospital, under 24-hour guard, while he continues to receive medical treatment. When he is released, he will be booked into the Genesee County Jail.
Neither Henderson nor Bell was hospitalized in connection with the COVID-19 outbreak, Swanson said.
The April 10 assault took place at Hurley Medical Center in Flint. Swanson explained that Henderson had been admitted to the hospital through the emergency room April 2 for a medical procedure. Bell was admitted through the ER April 8.
He was assigned as Henderson’s roommate on the fifth floor.
On Good Friday, Bell had gotten up to go to the bathroom, wheeling his IV pole with him. When he returned to the room, he went straight to Henderson’s bed and began beating the man in the head with the pole, according to the sheriff.
“Now, that victim was coming out of anesthesia,” Swanson said. “That victim was not conscious at the time, could not defend themselves, was not able to do anything.”
A Hurley staff member, who, according to hospital protocol, was in the room observing Bell due to his medical condition, immediately jumped in and stopped the attack. Though he did not offer details, Swanson indicated that medical staff had already identified a potential risk with Bell, leading to the observation.
“The only thing that kept it from getting worse is that that Hurley employee, who was there to observe, called for an emergency, called for public safety to come up there,” Swanson said. “Other staff members on the fifth floor joined in and were able to restrain the patient back into their bed and give treatment to our victim, Mr. Henderson.”
Henderson, who suffered cuts to his eye and bruises on his head, underwent surgery on Saturday, April 11 for his eye.
“Something catastrophic happened on Sunday, and that is Mr. Henderson died,” Swanson said.
It is not yet clear what Henderson died of. Leyton said the medical examiner will perform an autopsy.
“Although the victim died in this case, we obviously have not charged murder and we have not done that because we are uncertain of the cause of death,” Leyton said. “It’s very possible that his demise came from something unrelated to the assault.”
The medical examiner’s report may take longer than usual due to the overwhelming number of COVID-19 deaths authorities are dealing with. Leyton said the autopsy will include dissection of Henderson’s brain to determine if he had fatal injuries from the beating.
“It would show whether or not the infliction of trauma to the head, a potential skull crushing, potential trauma to the brain was the cause of death,” the prosecutor said. “That’s what we really need to know to make a determination as to whether the (assault with the attempt to murder) is the correct and only charge, in addition to the mayhem, or if we need to amend it to a more serious charge.”
If the attack was Henderson’s cause of death, Bell’s charges will be upgraded to include murder, Leyton said.
Swanson said his agency works as security for Hurley, where about 99% of problems that require deputies’ attention occur in the emergency room.
“It’s rare that we have anything up on the floors,” the sheriff said. “Fear not. Hurley is a safe place to go, it is a great place to go, and this is an isolated incident.”
A spokeswoman for the hospital issued a brief statement, which was obtained by ABC12 in Flint.
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