LOS ANGELES – A man accused of abusing patients at a pricey Calabasas retirement home jumped on a 78-year-old woman's chest and body-slammed her and encouraged wheelchair-confined residents to fight, jurors were told.
"He attacked the most vulnerable people you can possibly find," Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Robin Allen said during trial this week for Cesar Ulloa. "He hit them and he laughed. This was sport."
Ulloa, 21, of the San Fernando Valley community of Reseda, is charged with seven counts of elder abuse and a count of torture. He faces life in prison if convicted.
Prosecution witnesses said Ulloa attacked patients at the Silverado Senior Living facility who were unable to tell anyone about the abuse because they suffered from dementia or other conditions.
Adelina Campos testified that while working at the home, she saw Ulloa leap from a dresser onto a male patient, landing with both knees on his belly.
"I was just in shock," Campos said.
A former caregiver, Luz Alvarez, said she saw Ulloa punch a combative man in the stomach, laugh and ask the wheelchair-confined man: "Haven't you had enough?"
Prosecutors contend that he also attacked a 78-year-old woman and tried to get two wheelchair-confined residents to fight.
Ulloa came under suspicion after the 2007 death of Elmore Kittower. The day after his funeral, his widow got a telephone call from Campos' mother, who told her that her husband had been beaten to death.
The body was exhumed and found to have several broken bones. An autopsy concluded that blunt force trauma contributed to his death.
Ulloa was fired from the facility for unrelated reasons and has remained jailed since his arrest in 2008.
Ulloa's attorney, Daniel Teola, denied that his client ever abused residents. Other workers spread false rumors because they envied Ulloa, who was named employee of the month shortly after being hired, the attorney said.
Teola argued that any injuries to patients were accidental. The home does not restrain or sedate patients and that means combative residents are more prone to injury, he argued.
"You're going to have bruises," he said. "You're going to have fractures."
The retirement home a dozen miles west of downtown has a reputation for being costly and comfortable, with fees running $70,000 a year or more. However, the prosecutor told jurors in Van Nuys Superior Court that low-level workers were poorly paid and trained.
The retirement home has denied any wrongdoing.
Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com