News Article Details

Man charged with murder at mental health facility

Stuart News - 11/1/2017

MARTIN COUNTY – After nearly two years, the State's Attorney's Office filed murder charges against a man accused of killing another patient at an Indiantown mental health facility, according to court documents.

Ernest Jones, 36, whose permanent address is listed as the Treasure Coast Forensic Treatment Center on Southwest Allapattah Road, was charged with second-degree murder about 4:30 p.m. Friday. Second-degree murder is an unintentional killing, often resulting from an assault.

Jones is charged with killing Bryan Lopez, 40, on Jan. 22, 2016, at the treatment center.

Lopez had been punched in the side of the head at the facility the morning before his death, according to a medical examiner's report.

Lopez was placed on watch that night and seemed to be OK, according to the report. At 7:15 a.m., Lopez was found dead in his bunk after taking his medicine and eating breakfast.

The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma, a Martin County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said in January 2016.

Lopez had been a court-ordered resident of the treatment center since 2014, according to the medical examiner's report.

Staff at the center gave statements to Martin County deputies; one mentioned an altercation in which Jones punched Lopez.

According to court documents, officials said they do not believe the attack on Lopez was premeditated.

Jones was committed to the Treasure Coast Forensic Treatment Center after a court order in 2013, according to court documents from Orange County, where he was living.

The commitment came after Jones was charged with robbery, battery on a person 65 or older and petty larceny. Jones agreed to a plea deal: In exchange for pleading guilty to robbery, Jones faced a maximum of 15 years in prison, according to court documents.

Jones also spent time in prison for robbery in 2007. He was incarcerated in 2003 for burglary, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

Jones is being held in the Martin County Jail without bail.

Follow Bohatch on Twitter: @emilybohatch

 
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