The man suspected of killing Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell in his Hacienda Heights home pleaded not guilty at an arraignment hearing Wednesday.
Carlos Medina, 61, has been charged with one felony count of murder and a special allegation that he used a firearm. During the arraignment at Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown LA, Superior Court Judge Armenui Amy Ashvanian ordered that Medina remain in jail in lieu of $2 million bail, and his next scheduled court appearance is May 17, when a hearing will be set to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to require him to stand trial.
If convicted, Medina faces up to 35 years to life in prison.
Medina is the husband of Bishop O’Connell’s housekeeper and had done work at the home, authorities said. He was arrested at his Torrance home on Feb. 20 after a six-hour standoff with SWAT and LA County Sheriff’s deputies.
Medina admitted to the killing, said District Attorney George Gascón during a press conference on Feb. 22. A motive for the killing remains under investigation by the Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff Robert Luna previously said Bishop O’Connell was shot multiple times in the bedroom of his home. The bishop’s body was discovered when a deacon went to his home because O’Connell was late for a meeting, Luna said.
Weapons found in Medina’s home after his arrest were tested to see if they were connected to O’Connell’s murder, LA County Sheriff Robert Luna said in February.
Bishop O’Connell was a longtime priest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles since 1979, largely serving in South LA. Long known for his pastoral work with the poor and disenfranchised, O’Connell was named an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles by Pope Francis in July 2015. Since then, he had served as episcopal vicar for the San Gabriel Pastoral Region, one of the LA Archdiocese’s five regions.
In a statement, the Archdiocese of LA said the arraignment “marks a next step in the legal process with the hopes of bringing about justice and healing from this terrible tragedy.”
“We appreciate the diligent efforts of all involved in these proceedings,” read the statement. “We have been extremely moved by the tremendous outpouring of prayers and support from throughout our Archdiocese, across the nation and around the world. It is truly a testament to Bishop David O’Connell’s ministry to bring God’s loving mercy to all, especially those most in need.”
A new exhibit honoring Bishop O’Connell’s life, ministry, and legacy recently opened inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.