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Hearing Delayed for VA Hospital Killing Suspect

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Rudy Perez Jr

Rudy Perez Jr

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A Sedalia man charged with killing a fellow patient at a veterans’ hospital in Columbia wants more time to prepare for his defense.

Rudy Perez Jr., 33, is charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 1 death of 78-year-old Robert Hill of Warsaw at Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital. Perez has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. Perez’s attorney, David Tyson Smith, says Perez is schizophrenic.

At a brief hearing Monday afternoon, Boone County Circuit Judge Deborah Daniels granted Smith’s request to delay a preliminary hearing for Perez until April 4. Perez appeared in court but did not speak.

An arrest warrant for Perez said he attacked Hill on the hospital’s second floor before employees separated the two men. Perez was allowed to return to a common area where Hill was also sent after he was treated for injuries from that fight.

Three hours later, Perez again attacked Hill, according to the warrant. Hill was punched “multiple times in the face and head” while lying on his back with Perez atop him, the warrant said. A hospital police officer broke up the disturbance.

Perez was arrested in Sedalia three days before Hill’s death after a neighbor said Perez punched him in the face. But he was released from the Pettis County jail 24 hours later without being charged.

Pettis County prosecutor Jeff Mittelhauser has said he was unable to file charges before the 24-hour hold on Perez expired because he needed more information from the arresting officer. Perez now also faces assault charges in that county.

The new charges are related to the alleged assault of a neighbor, two alleged assaults involving Perez’s parents as they tried to take him to a hospital, and an incident in the Pettis County jail.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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