The psychiatric patient accused of murdering his roommate at Miami Beach’s Mount Sinai Medical Center is too mentally unstable to stand trial, a judge ruled this week, as the victim’s family announced it had reached a settlement in the civil lawsuit against the hospital.
The accused killer, Andre Brown, 25, was declared incompetent to proceed to trial for murder, which means he will be sent to a state psychiatric hospital to rehabilitate.
“We’re just looking forward to competency being regained and getting this case to trial,” said his defense lawyer, Stacy Marczak.
Brown is accused of beating and strangling 55-year-old Alejandro Ortega in May 2016 inside Room 452 at the Miami Beach hospital.
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A secretary found Ortega laying in the blood-spattered bathtub of his room, a towel wrapped tightly around his neck. Staffers immediately realized that Ortega had been beaten and suspicion fell on Brown, who like Ortega had a long history of mental illness.
Miami Beach police officers rushed to the hospital and found Brown, who blurted out: “It was self-defense. I had to do it,” according to an arrest report.
In a rambling and often incoherent statement to police, Brown repeatedly referred to Ortega as his “real father” who was “trying to touch the females in the hospital.” He also said he believed Ortega was “like some Satan.”
Ortega’s son sued Mount Sinai, alleging the hospital failed to properly supervise Brown. The day before the killing, Ortega’s son had visited his father and noticed a black eye and a deep torso bruise, suggesting he had been attacked earlier. Hospital staff promised to watch after him, he said.
The terms of the settlement are confidential. “It certainly brings closure to Mr. Ortega’s only son, who was on the premises at the time he was discovered,” said the family’s attorney, Robert Pelier.
A hospital spokeswoman said: “Mount Sinai does not comment on matters regarding patient privacy and the confidentiality of litigation and settlements. Mount Sinai’s top priority continues to be the safety of our patients, visitors, caregivers and employees.”