SAN DIEGO — An 18-year-old who has been accused of murdering an elderly homeless man entered a plea of not guilty during a court hearing in San Diego, one week after the attack occurred.
Daniel Ruben Martin, a resident of El Cajon, is facing one count of murder and appeared before a judge for the first time on Wednesday.
According to the San Diego police, Martin and another teenager are alleged to have beaten and killed 65-year-old Michael Shook.
Shook, who was homeless, was discovered dead in the early hours of July 5 at Bonita Cove Park on West Mission Bay Drive.
Martin is currently being held without bail.
“It’s difficult, it’s hard to learn the details about how brutal the attack truly was,” said Michael A. Shook, the son of the victim.
He mentioned that he was already mourning the loss of his father, but when the police informed him of the circumstances surrounding his father’s death, he was in a state of shock.
The victim’s son was present in the courtroom on Wednesday. He shared his father’s name and provided more insight into the kind of person he was.
He mentioned that his father grew up in Vista with his mother and himself, and that his father was an enthusiastic fisherman.
He added that his father faced troubles later in life and became homeless after being released from custody, all while battling terminal cancer.
“It’s very sad because he was already on his way out, and no one deserves to die in such a manner. What’s even sadder is that these kids threw away a significant portion of their lives and made their own family members victims as well.
They could have simply left the homeless man alone on the bench,” Michael A. Shook said.
Authorities reported that when they arrived at the scene early on Wednesday, they discovered that Shook had sustained multiple stab wounds to his upper body and had facial injuries indicating he had been beaten.
During the initial investigation, the police revealed that the victim had engaged in a physical altercation with a group of five or six individuals in their late teens and early twenties.
Three days after the attack, Martin was arrested during a traffic stop. On Sunday, a 17-year-old turned themselves in at the San Diego Police Department Headquarters; however, their identity has not been disclosed due to being a minor.
Martin is scheduled to appear in court again on July 21 for a bail review, during which more details about the case are expected to be discussed.
Martin’s family was present in the courtroom but declined to give an interview on Wednesday.