A San Francisco convalescent home employee suspected of smothering to death an 87-year-old woman in his care Monday was arraigned on a murder charge today and ordered held on $10 million bail.
Dressed in orange jail garb and his head and face showing fresh wounds, Maximo Hong Fajardo Jr., 32, appeared in San Francisco Superior Court shortly after noon today, for the first time since his arrest.
He pleaded not guilty to murder with the use of a deadly weapon–in this case, a pillow, according to prosecutors.
The victim, identified today as Barbara McIver, of San Francisco, was killed at about 10 a.m. Monday at the Convalescent Center Mission Street, located at 5767 Mission St. in the city’s Outer Mission neighborhood.
Monday was the first time Fajardo, a certified nurse assistant who had been working at the center for only two weeks, was allowed to spend time with residents unsupervised, police and prosecutors said.
McIver was allegedly smothered while other bedridden residents were in the room. Police and prosecutors have not discussed a possible motive for the killing.
Fajardo, who lives in San Francisco, has no prior criminal history, authorities said.
During his arraignment, Fajardo repeatedly answered “Yes, sir” and “No, sir” as Judge Samuel Feng arraigned him on the murder charge.
“Not guilty, sir,” Fajardo answered when asked what he would plead.
Feng set bail at $10 million at the request of prosecutor Linda Allen.
Defense attorney Randall Martin, appointed today to represent Fajardo on behalf of the public defender’s office, argued that the bail amount was excessive.
“Your honor I don’t think it’s excessive, considering he killed a helpless 87-year-old woman and fled,” Allen responded.
Outside court, Martin declined to comment specifically about the case. He said he had just met Fajardo.
“He’s very distraught,” Martin said.
Fajardo is due back in court April 19 for a status hearing.
Following the alleged murder, police said, Fajardo ran from the convalescent home and went on a carjacking spree punctuated by multiple crashes until his arrest in the Portero Hill neighborhood.
District attorney’s office spokesman Brian Buckelew said Fajardo first carjacked a Toyota Corolla in the 100 block of Moneta Way, just blocks from the convalescent home. He then crashed into a Hyundai at Geneva Avenue and Alemany Boulevard, where he carjacked a Toyota Camry.
Fajardo crashed the Camry into a Nissan Pathfinder at 16th and De Haro streets a short time later and attempted a third carjacking but failed, police said.
Two members of the World Gym at 16th and De Haro streets saw the crash, chased after Fajardo, and held him until police arrived.
In addition to the murder charge, Fajardo is facing two counts of carjacking, one count of attempted carjacking, one count of elder abuse, two misdemeanor counts of hit-and-run and one misdemeanor count of escaping from police custody.
Police said the wounds on Fajardo’s face and head are a result of both the crashes and an escape attempt during his interrogation by police later in the day at the Hall of Justice.
At the end of the interrogation, Fajardo allegedly tried to run from the interrogation room and briefly escaped, but was tackled by police before he could leave the office.