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Phoenix care facility owner facing murder charge allegedly beat patient

Valer Catuna (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Mugshot)

PHOENIX — The owner of a Phoenix adult care facility allegedly beat a patient who had a traumatic brain injury before the man died last year, according to court documents.

Valer Catuna, 52, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder Wednesday in the death of William Griswold.

Griswold, 53, died Oct. 21, 2020, at the Artemis Adult Care Home near 35th Avenue and Bell Road.

Griswold had been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, had difficulty speaking and was “completely dependent upon Valer Catuna and other employees for his day-to-day needs and care,” according to the police probable cause statement.

His death was initially reported by first responders as a medical event with no signs of foul play, police said.

But a witness who lived at the facility later told police that several hours before Griswold died, Catuna argued with him, pushed him onto his bed and repeatedly punched him in the head.

“The assault only concluded when a vendor arrived at the front door to the care facility,” the probable cause statement says.

Police allege that Catuna failed to seek medical attention after the assault and tried to hide it from investigators.

The incident occurred around 10:40 a.m., and Griswold refused to eat the rest of the day and complained of pain all over his body, police said. He died sometime between 7 and 8 p.m.

The medical examiner performed an autopsy and determined that blunt force trauma killed Griswold and ruled his death a homicide.

Adult Protective Services and the Arizona Department of Health Services have been notified and are seeing to the care of the facility’s residents.

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