Laquisha Jones, the black woman accused of beating 91-year-old Rodolfo Rodriguez with a cement brick as he was taking his nightly walk, will face attempted murder charges.
Jones was arraigned at the Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday. KCAL reports that she pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and elder abuse.
The 30-year-old had originally been charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
The brutality of Jones’ attack and the level of injury Rodriguez suffered played into the upgraded charge, says the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
“The defendant personally used a deadly and dangerous weapon, a brick, during the commission of the crime and...she committed great bodily injury upon the victim,” wrote the LACDA in their felony complaint.
According to his family, Rodriguez suffered two broken ribs, a broken jaw, broken cheekbones, and bruising throughout his face and body. He is still recovering from his injuries.
After Rodriguez allegedly bumped into Jones’ toddler on the sidewalk of his Los Angeles neighborhood on July 4, authorities and witnesses say Jones shoved Rodriguez to the ground and began beating him with a concrete brick.
Misbel Borjas, a witness to the attack, said Jones repeatedly hit Rodriguez in the head with the cement block.
“I heard her saying, go back to your country, go back to Mexico,” Borjas told CNN. “When I tried to videotape her with my cell phone, she threw that same concrete block, tried to hit my car.”
Rodriguez told the cable news outlet he “didn’t even bump into her kid.”
“I just passed her and she pushed me and she hit me until she was done,” Rodriguez said.
Initial reports said an additional four men may have joined in on the beating after Rodriguez was on the ground. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department was still investigating if more people were involved in the attack as of Wednesday.
Despite Jones allegedly telling Rodriguez to go back to his country (he is of Mexican descent, but is a legal U.S. resident), LASD has determined that the attack on Rodriguez “is not a hate-related incident,” the department wrote in a statement.
If convicted for attempted murder, Jones could face a maximum of 29 years in prison, according to CNN. Alternatively, had Jones been charged with a hate crime, she would have served a maximum of an additional year in prison under state law, while the maximum sentence under federal law is 10 years in prison.
Originally Jones’ bail was set at $200,000, but prosecutors now recommend a $1.25 million bail. Jones was on probation for a 2017 conviction of making criminal threats, CNN reports.
“She hurt me, but I cannot be an enemy and say I condemn her,” Rodriguez told KABC TV while recuperating in his daughter’s home.
“God forgive her for what she did to me,” he said. Rodriguez also told KABC he’s grateful Jones was arrested, but still wished God’s blessings on her.