Sedalia prosecutor explains lack of charges

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — An incomplete police report forced the release of a Sedalia assault suspect two days before the man is alleged to have killed a hospital patient in Columbia, the Pettis County prosecutor said.

After his release from the jail, Rudy Perez Jr., 33, reportedly assaulted his father on the side of a road. That led to a 96-hour involuntary commitment at the Columbia Veterans Affairs hospital.

Perez is charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 1 death of Robert O. Hill. The 78-year-old Warsaw man was severely beaten at Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital, where he and Perez were both patients. Perez is accused of attacking Hill twice, beating him with his hands and fists.

The Columbia Daily Tribune (bit.ly/YUfQ12) reported Wednesday Perez was arrested by Sedalia police Jan. 29 on suspicion of punching a neighbor in the face. He was released 24 hours later when no charges were filed.

Pettis County prosecutor Jeff Mittelhauser told the newspaper he was unable to file charges before the 24-hour hold expired because he needed more information from the arresting officer.

"I was trying to figure out why this happened," Mittelhauser said. "There was no explanation in the initial report of how the two people were acquainted to each other and why they got into it."

The arresting officer worked a 12-hour shift the day of the incident and didn't return to work until the next day, the prosecutor added. By the time the officer received Mittelhauser's request for more information, the hold on Perez had expired.

Perez told Sedalia police he attacked a neighbor because he saw the 25-year-old man on his porch the previous night.

Court records allege Perez also attacked a Pettis County jailer. The attack on the jailer required a Taser to subdue Perez. Before that, Perez kicked jail cell doors, punched windows and walked around "agitated" in his cell, court records reviewed by the Tribune show.

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