The suspect in the murder of Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell was formally charged with murder Wednesday after admitting to killing him.
Carlos Medina, 61, faces one felony count of murder and a special allegation that he used a firearm, according to the LA County District Attorney’s Office. His formal arraignment is scheduled for March 22 at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown LA.
Medina is the husband of Bishop O’Connell’s housekeeper and he had done handyman work at the home, authorities said. He was arrested at his Torrance home Monday, Feb. 20, after a six-hour standoff with SWAT and LA County Sheriff’s deputies.
District Attorney George Gascón said at a press conference Wednesday that Medina admitted to the killing. If convicted, Medina faces up to 35 years to life in prison.
“This was a brutal act of violence against a person who dedicated his life to making our neighborhoods safer, healthier, and always serving with love and compassion,” said Gascón.
“As Catholics around Los Angeles and the nation start the holy season of Lent, let us reflect on Bishop O’Connell’s life of service and dedication to those in greatest need of our care,” Gascón added. “Charging Mr. Medina will never repair the tremendous harm that was caused by this callous act, but it does take us one step closer to accountability.”
Speaking in Spanish, Gascón said: “Father O’Connell is someone who dedicated his life not only to the Church, but to the whole community. A man who was born in Ireland, but spoke perfect Spanish. He spent years helping immigrant communities to help young people displaced from war and violence.”
LA County Sheriff Robert Luna said at a Monday press conference that authorities were investigating a tip they received about Medina claiming O’Connell owed him money.
Sheriff’s Lt. Michael Modica said at Wednesday’s press conference that when Medina was interviewed, he gave various reasons for the killing but none of them made sense to the investigators. They no longer believe the motive of money owed is valid.
The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The weapons found in Medina’s home are being tested to see if either is connected to O’Connell’s murder, Sheriff Luna said on Monday.
Long known for his pastoral work with the poor and disenfranchised in South and Central Los Angeles, 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.
During his time as auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles, evangelization, pastoral care for immigrants, and ensuring the future of his region’s Catholic schools, were all top priorities for O’Connell, who believed that “parishes and schools are powerful instruments of transformation of people’s lives and of neighborhoods.”