Last updated: August 27. 2013 10:51AM - 173 Views

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A Sedalia man has been charged with first-degree murder after allegedly assaulting a 78-year-old Warsaw man at the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital in Columbia.

Rudy Perez Jr., 33, is accused of attacking Robert O. Hill at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the hospital; Hill died of his injuries four hours later.

Veterans’ Hospital Public Affairs Officer Stephen Gaither confirmed there was a “patient-on-patient attack Friday evening at the hospital” but could not say where the assault occurred or how long Perez had been a patient there.

“The investigation was started initially by the VA Police, under the Criminal Division Office of the Inspector General, but Saturday afternoon it was turned over to the Columbia Police Department and is now being run as a joint investigation,” Gaither said. “I can’t comment any further than that.”

Calls to the Columbia Police Department were not returned by press time.

Perez was arrested by the Sedalia Police Department on Jan. 29 for second-degree assault and first-degree burglary. He was released from the Pettis County Jail the next day and was not officially charged. According to SPD Cmdr. Matt Wirt, officers did not transport Perez to the VA Hospital.

“We can and have transported people in the past, but we did not in this case,” Wirt said. “Our last contact with him was when we booked him into the Pettis County Jail.”

Perez is currently being held on a $1 million cash-only bond.

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