Ann Klein Forensic Center patient indicted in beating death of another patient

TRENTON >> A mentally ill man has been indicted in the death of a fellow Ann Klein Forensic Center patient who was beaten so badly he suffered a brain bleed and a fractured skull, authorities said.

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office announced the indictment of 51-year-old Dwayne Hester on the charge of aggravated manslaughter in the intentional and unprovoked Feb. 13 attack at the Trenton facility of 55-year-old Daniel Rodriguez.

Hester had already been charged with aggravated assault with intent to cause serious bodily injury in the attack following an investigation by New Jersey State Police Trooper Jared Boyd, who filed the charge Feb. 22.

Hester was indicted on the stiffer charges this week, accused of bludgeoning Rodriguez with his fists and knocking him to the ground which caused him to hit his head and fracture his skull, prosecutors outlined.

Rodriguez died from his injuries about a month later, on March 20, prosecutors said.

The case was presented Thursday to the grand jury which returned an indictment charging a single count of first-degree aggravated assault, for which Hester faces up to 20 years in state prison if he’s convicted.

Hester, originally from Newark, was a patient at Ann Klein classified as a paranoid schizophrenic. He has three prior aggravated assault convictions for attacks that occurred in the 1980s and ’90s, court documents show.

Ann Klein Forensic Center, a state-run facility, provides care and treatment for 199 clients suffering from mental illness who are determined by the courts to be “not guilty by reason of insanity” or “incompetent to stand trial” or who require special security measures due to the nature of their illness, according to the state’s mental health division.

Hester and Rodriguez were both residing as patients at the facility, which is known to have documented incidents of violence against staff members and against patients every year.

Surveillance footage showed Hester approaching Rodriguez and striking him from the back with a closed fist to the head, subsequently knocking him unconscious, Trooper Boyd alleged in his affidavit.

“Hester subsequently provided a post-Miranda admission stating that he intentionally attacked for no apparent reason.”

Trentonian reporter Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman contributed to this report

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