Prosecutors filed charges Thursday against a 24-year-old Santa Ana man accused of severely beating, sexually assaulting and carjacking a 75-year-old homeless woman in the parking lot of a church in Tustin last week.
Fernando Valdovinos stands accused of attempted murder, sexual penetration with a foreign object by force, attempted rape and carjacking, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. He’s also accused of sentence-enhancing allegations of inflicting great bodily injury on an elder in connection with the crimes.
The victim remained hospitalized, unresponsive, in an intensive care unit Thursday, with injuries including skull fractures and bleeding in her brain, prosecutors said in a written statement.
“The depravity with which this heinous attack was carried out demonstrates just how vulnerable the homeless population — and especially homeless women — is to violence,” O.C. District Attorney Todd Spitzer said. “The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is committed to getting justice for this woman who shouldn’t have been living on the streets and couldn’t fend for herself. No one should be forced to endure that kind of viciousness.”
The crimes took place about 8 p.m. April 30, but were not discovered until more than 14 hours later, when the victim was found unconscious and partially nude in some bushes at the church in the 600 block of West Sixth Street, according to Tustin Police Department Lt. Andrew Birozy.
“Further investigation revealed the suspect, 24-year-old Fernando Valdovinos, struck the victim in the face numerous times with his hands and then sexually assaulted her,” Birozy said in a written statement.
“After the attack, he dragged the badly beaten woman into nearby bushes and stole her car,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
Tustin police caught up with Valdovinos on May 2, when he was spotted driving the victim’s car, police said. He had a man and a 16-year-old girl riding with him as passengers.
The girl was arrested on suspicion of carjacking and conspiracy, but was not suspected in the attack on the woman, police said. She was already on probation for robbery. The man riding in the car was determined not to have been involved in the crimes and was released.
Valdovinos, whose profession was listed in booking records as gardener, was being held without bail pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled May 20 in Orange County Superior Court.
He could face life in state prison if convicted as charged.