Crime

The oxygen tank was there to keep him alive. An aide nearly beat him to death with it

A former caretaker has been found guilty of nearly killing a 92-year-old World War II veteran by beating him with his oxygen tank.
A former caretaker has been found guilty of nearly killing a 92-year-old World War II veteran by beating him with his oxygen tank. File

A former caretaker has been found guilty of nearly killing a 92-year-old World War II veteran by beating him with his oxygen tank.

Elena Erickson, 47, was found guilty on Friday of attempted second-degree murder and aggravated abuse of an elderly person after a weeklong trial. She is scheduled to be sentenced by Circuit Judge Debra Johnes Riva at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 13.

“It’s ironic that the instrument that was supposed to sustain his life was then used as a weapon to almost take his life. The victim and State Attorney’s Office are very pleased with the jury’s verdict,” Assistant State Attorney Kennedy Legler said in a statement.

Erickson’s victim, Michael Tristano, a waist gunner and ball-turret gunner during World War II and flew 35 combat missions in a B-17 bomber, testified at trial, according to the State Attorney’s Office.

On the night of May 15, the 92-year-old victim was sitting at the dinning room table in his North Port home when Erickson hit him over the head twice with the oxygen tank. A struggle between Erickson and the victim ensued, during which the victim was injured further.

attempted murder suspect
Elena Erickson Bradenton Herald

Erickson attempted to clean up his blood while the victim was forced to sit at the table for about an hour, before she hit him twice more with the oxygen tank. The last blows caused the victim to drift in and out of consciousness throughout the night, before Erickson finally left sometime between 5 and 6 a.m.

When the man’s daughter couldn’t reach him at the home the next morning, she called Erickson and ask the caretaker to go check on her father. Erickson returned to the home and called 911, later telling paramedics that it appeared he had fallen.

But at Venice Regional Hospital, doctors became suspicious because of the victim’s injuries and called police. When the man regained consciousness, he was able to tell police what Erickson had done to him.

Erickson later told North Port detectives that she left Tristano’s house at 10:30 p.m. after they into an argument about payment, but the community’s video surveillance and barcode scans disputed her story.

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