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Accused Killer Pleads Not Guilty

A man accused of killing a patient inside Columbia’s VA Hospital pleaded not guilty to the crime in court Thursday.Rudy Perez, Jr., 33, of Sedalia is accused of beating another patient to death last Friday. He has been charged with first-degree murder and made his first court appearance in Boone County.Perez’s defense attorney, David Tyson Smith, says Perez cannot be held responsible because he suffers from schizophrenia. Perez, a former marine, was a patient seeking psychiatric help at the hospital when the attack happened.In the courtroom, Perez pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease. That reasoning would exclude him from responsibility.According to officials, Perez allegedly attacked the victim, Robert Hill, 78, of Warsaw, Mo., and then were separated for a period of time. However, they were allowed to be in the same room again and that is when Perez apparently beat Hill to death.”I think the ball was dropped somewhere along the line,” said defense attorney David Tyson Smith. “I think this all could have been avoided. Again our client is very remorseful. I think everyone realizes that this is a terrible thing, but I think if he had the proper medication, this all could have been avoided.””I spoke with the victim’s son today on the telephone, he is certainly heartbroken, and we’re going to do everything we can to achieve justice in this case,” Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight told ABC 17 News.Perez’s attorney says he was off his medication when the attack happened. This case will likely hinge on Perez’s mental state at the time of the attack, and to find that out, the court will conduct a mental evaluation on him.Perez’s next court date is schedule for March.

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