Alicia Keator, a 40-year-old woman, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for her involvement in the murder of 65-year-old John Fernandez, a wheelchair-bound man she had agreed to care for. Her boyfriend, Marcus Gilbert, also known as “Skunk,” pleaded guilty to murder in connection with Fernandez’s death.
The tragic incident occurred on January 2, 2018, when a welfare check was initiated at The Providence at Baytown Apartments after concerns were raised by friends who had not heard from Fernandez since Christmas 2017. Upon entering Fernandez’s apartment, law enforcement discovered his lifeless body, revealing signs of foul play. Fernandez’s hands and feet were bound, and his mouth was taped shut, leading investigators to conclude that he had been suffocated.
Fernandez, known as a kind and gentle figure in the apartment complex, required daily assistance but lacked nearby family. Keator had moved in with him a month prior under an agreement to provide assistance in exchange for accommodation. However, instead of fulfilling her promise, she permitted her boyfriend to visit regularly, ultimately leading to the planned robbery and murder of Fernandez.
Following concerns from neighbors and the discovery of Fernandez’s remains, Baytown Police arrested Keator and Gilbert on suspicion of suffocating Fernandez and stealing his belongings, including his cellphone, TV, and ATM card. Initially charged with capital murder, Gilbert pleaded guilty and received a 60-year prison sentence.
Keator, although pleading guilty without an agreement, cooperated with prosecutors by providing critical evidence against her co-defendant and agreeing to testify against him, despite no promise of leniency. Consequently, the judge acknowledged her cooperation, leading to a 25-year prison sentence. Both Keator and Gilbert will be eligible for parole after serving half of their respective sentences.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg emphasized the vulnerability of elderly and disabled individuals to violence, condemning the couple for taking advantage of Fernandez’s kindness. Ogg expressed that justice was served with the significant prison sentences for the perpetrators.
This unfortunate incident highlights the vulnerability of certain demographics in society and the importance of safeguarding individuals who require assistance, as well as the legal consequences for those who exploit their vulnerability.