March 5. 2024. 2:05

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Murdered Irish bishop likely asleep when shot in LA home, says prosecutor

Murdered Cork born Bishop David O’Connell was most likely asleep in his bedroom when he was shot several times by the man who has been charged with his murder, a lawyer involved in the prosecution of the case has revealed.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón told the Los Angeles Times in an interview that it was quite likely that Bishop O’Connell (69) was asleep when he was shot at the house where he lived alone.

Carlos Medina (61), a handyman from Torrance in Los Angeles, whose wife worked as a housekeeper for Bishop O’Connell, was formally charged on Wednesday with the murder of the bishop at his home on Janlu Avenue, Hacienda Heights on February 18th.

Mr Medina was charged on Wednesday with Bishop O’Connell’s murder when Judge Armenui Amy Ashvanian set bail at $2.3 million. A Spanish language interpreter relayed the court proceedings to Medina, but he did not speak during the short hearing with his arraignment set for March 22nd.

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Mr Medina also faces a second charge of using a firearm during the crime and if convicted of Bishop O’Connell’s murder, he could face up to 35 years in prison, Mr Gascón announced at a press conference on Wednesday in Los Angeles County.

According to the Los Angeles Times, law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation said the firearm involved was a small-calibre weapon and that Bishop O’Connell’s wounds weren’t clearly visible to the deacon who first discovered the bishop’s body at around 1pm on February 18th.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that sources close to the investigation have revealed that police recovered two firearms including a .38 calibre handgun that detectives suspect was used in the murder when they searched Mr Medina’s home after they had taken him into custody on Monday.

The paper is also reporting that Bishop O’Connell was shot up to five times though no details about what was found at autopsy were disclosed by Los Angeles County Sheriff, Robert Luna, at a press briefing he gave on Monday.

Sheriff Luna said that surveillance footage from Janlu Avenue in Hacienda Heights, where Bishop O’Connell lived, showed “a dark compact SUV” pulling up outside Bishop O’Connell’s house at about the time that police believe the bishop was murdered.

After announcing Mr Medina’s arrest, Sheriff Luna said the tipster who pointed law enforcement to the suspect said Mr Medina had claimed that the bishop owed him money related to his work as a handyman, but officials have yet to disclose what they believe motivated the killing.

Sheriff’s Lt Michael Modica said that when Mr Medina was interviewed, he provided several reasons for the killing, but “none of them made sense to the investigators”. “We don’t believe there’s any validity to the owing of money,” he said, referring to the motive suggested by the tipster.

In detailing the charges, Mr Gascón said at the press conference that Mr Medina had admitted to the killing to investigators, but Los Angeles County Public Defender Ricardo Garcia said in a statement that Mr Medina “is presumed innocent and entitled to a vigorous defence”.

“We are sensitive to the impact this case has had on our community but at the same time caution against any rush to judgment, either by the public or the media, until all the facts are established in court,” said Mr Garcia in his statement to The Los Angeles Times.

Speaking earlier about the crime at the press briefing after Mr Medina was charged, Mr Gascón said: “This has been a shock for our community. This was a brutal act of violence against a person who dedicated his life to making our neighbourhoods safer, healthier and always served with love.”