COLUMBIA — Rudy Perez Jr., the man accused of beating a fellow patient to death at Truman Veterans Hospital in January, was granted a continuance at a preliminary hearing Monday.
Both the Boone County prosecutor and the defense wanted the extra time for discovery, the process of obtaining evidence, Perez’s attorney David Tyson Smith said. Judge Deborah Daniels rescheduled the hearing for April 2.
Smith entered a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease to Perez's first-degree murder charge at his arraignment in February. Smith said Perez is schizophrenic and was off his medication at the time of the incident. He needs to undergo a mental health examination to determine if he was competent at the time of the incident, Smith said after the arraignment.
On January 29, Perez, a 33-year-old from Sedalia, attacked 78-year-old Robert O. Hill in a common area in the hospital where both men were patients, according to the probable cause statement. After being separated, the two were placed back in the same common area. Three hours later, Perez attacked Hill again, forcing him onto the floor, kneeling over him and striking him multiple times in the face and head, according to the statement.
Hill was transported to University Hospital’s emergency room and was pronounced dead four hours later.
Perez is facing six additional charges from the Pettis County prosecutor. The week leading up to the homicide, Perez, who police say had never had trouble with the law, assaulted his parents, his neighbor and an officer at the Pettis County Jail. He had been arrested for attacking and burglarizing his neighbor but was released when the prosecutor failed to file charges within 24 hours.
He is awaiting trial in the Boone County Jail.
Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.