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Murder charge after man dies in California hospital beating

LONG BEACH, Calif. — A Southern California man pleaded not guilty Thursday to assaulting and killing a fellow patient in their shared hospital room last month, prosecutors said.

Francisco Sanchez-Reyes, 73, suffered major injuries in the attack Jan. 31 at College Medical Center in Long Beach, according to police. He was taken in critical condition to another hospital, where he died Feb. 8.

Reginald Daniel Panthier, 37, was arrested the day of the reported assault. He initially pleaded not guilty to charges including assault with a deadly weapon.

Prosecutors amended the counts after Sanchez-Reyes’ death. Panthier pleaded not guilty Thursday to one felony count each of murder, elder abuse resulting in death, elder abuse with infliction of injury and assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.

Authorities have not released a possible motive.

Panthier, described by prosecutors as a transient, was ordered to return to court on March 19, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Sanchez-Reyes was initially hospitalized around 5:30 a.m. Jan. 31 after seeking treatment for a urinary tract infection, his son, Ramon Sanchez, wrote in an online fundraising page. Police said he was attacked in the hospital about 12:30 p.m. the same day.

“We still don’t know, to this day, what was the reason for this individual to beat up my father,” Sanchez wrote.

Panthier was in custody on $1 million bail. He faces a possible maximum sentence of 50 years to life in state prison if convicted.

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