LOS ANGELES (AP) — Prosecutors charged a man Wednesday with killing a Catholic bishop in a crime that stunned Los Angeles religious and immigrant communities.
Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell, 69, was fatally shot multiple times Saturday in the bedroom of his home in Hacienda Heights, an unincorporated community about 20 miles (30 kilometers) east of downtown Los Angeles.
The suspect, Carlos Medina, is the husband of O’Connell’s housekeeper. Medina had done work at the bishop’s home and was arrested Monday by a SWAT team.
LA County District Attorney George Gascón said Wednesday that Medina is charged with one count of murder with a special allegation that he personally used a firearm.
“Charging Mr. Medina will never repair the tremendous harm that was caused by this callous act, but it does take us one step closer to accountability,” Gascón said.
Medina faces 35 years to life in prison. He appeared in court Wednesday afternoon, and his arraignment was postponed to March 22.
The public defender’s office, which is representing Medina, said in a statement that Medina is presumed innocent “and entitled to a vigorous defense.”
Because the case is so serious, a senior deputy was appointed to handle it, the statement said.
“We are sensitive to the impact this case has had on our community but at the same time caution against any rush to judgment,” the statement said.
O’Connell had been a priest for 45 years and was a native of Ireland, according to Angelus News, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest. In 2015, Pope Francis named him one of several auxiliary bishops of the archdiocese.
Lt. Michael Modica of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, who is leading the homicide investigation, said Medina told detectives of several reasons for the violence, “and none of them made any sense to investigators,” so the motive remains unclear.
Previous reports that Medina said O’Connell had owed him money appear to be incorrect, Modica said.