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Man charged with murder in nursing home deaths

Man charged with murder in nursing home deaths
This booking photo provided by the Houston Police Department on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, shows Guillermo Correa. (AP Photo/Houston Police Department)
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HOUSTON (AP) — A Houston nursing home resident accused of using the armrest of his wheelchair to beat two of his roommates to death is facing a capital murder charge, police said Wednesday.

Guillermo Correa, 56, was in custody after being formally charged following the Tuesday evening incident at the Lexington Place Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Police said the two victims, identified in court records as Antonio Acosta, 77, and Primitivo Lopez, 51, suffered head trauma and were pronounced dead at the scene.

Nursing home employees told investigators Correa did not get along with his roommates and got into a fight with them, police spokesman Victor Senties said. But exactly what sparked the fight is still not known, he said. Another person was in the room during the attack and is being questioned by police.

Irma Chavez, Acosta's daughter, said her father had long complained about Correa scaring him — as recently as earlier Tuesday.

"My father said to me, 'Mija please, can they move this man out of this room?'" she said as she stood outside the nursing home on Wednesday.

Chavez, 51, said Correa would cut himself, often talked to himself and would argue with other people in the facility. Police said Correa is wheelchair-bound but Chavez said he could walk around.

According to Chavez, when she reported those complaints to nursing home management, she was told she could move her father to a different facility.

"They said in order for people to move that person, he has to commit a crime or something. And now two people are dead," she said crying.

Sergio Godoy, Acosta's grandson, said his grandfather would often talk about fearing for his safety.

"He always said, 'There is something about this guy. One day he is going to hurt us,'" Godoy said.

An employee at the nursing home refused to identify herself and declined to comment.

State records listed Plano, Texas-based Pinnacle Health Facilities as the owner of the nursing home, which has 200 beds. Pinnacle did not immediately respond to a phone message Wednesday.

Lexington Place had its most recent comprehensive inspection on Feb. 7, according to records from the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, the state agency that monitors nursing homes.

The most recent inspection found 17 deficiencies regarding federal standards and 21 violations of state standards.

Most of the federal deficiencies were for things that ranked two out of four for severity, with one being the least severe and four being the most. These deficiencies included failing to properly store and label drugs, not having a program to keep infection from spreading and items related to testing generators and maintaining portable fire extinguishers.

Records show that 13 of the 17 federal deficiencies were corrected by March 14.

Records show the nursing home had nearly 90 complaints or self-reported incidents within the last year that the state agency investigated, including allegations about quality of care and neglect. The state found the majority of those to be unsubstantiated.

In the wake of the two deaths, the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services is investigating whether any regulations or policies at Lexington Place might have had an impact on the incident, agency spokeswoman Cecilia Cavuto said.

Chavez said Acosta had lived in the facility for two years and was recovering from two strokes. A guitar player who performed around Houston, Acosta was starting to use a walker and was looking forward to the day he could leave, she said.

"My grandpa didn't deserve to die like this," Godoy said.
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