Suspect pleads not guilty in deadly beating of cellmate

San Diego (KUSI) – A 23-year-old male inmate pleaded not guilty to a murder charge Thursday after he was accused of beating his 69-year-old cellmate to death.

Prosecutors said at an arraignment Thursday that a sheriff’s deputy came across Joshua David McDaniels stomping Francis Fernandez five times in the head at about 7:20 p.m. last Friday.

Fernandez, who was on the ground by the time the deputy arrived, was pronounced dead at a hospital two days later, Deputy District Attorney Kalyn Wang said. 

According to Wang, McDaniels was in custody for being under the influence of drugs while Fernandez was in jail on drunk in public charges. Sheriff’s deputies said the attack was unprovoked.

McDaniels is due back in court on Oct. 22 for a status conference and a preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 28.

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