]A 40-year-old woman has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the robbery and murder of an elderly man in a wheelchair, whom she had agreed to care for. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg disclosed on Monday, October 30, that Alicia Keator, along with her boyfriend, Marcus Gilbert, who also went by the alias “Skunk,” had pleaded guilty to the murder of 65-year-old John Fernandez.
The Baytown Police Department reported that on January 2, 2018, just after 1:30 p.m., officers were dispatched to The Providence at Baytown Apartments for a welfare check on Fernandez. A concerned caller informed the police that no one had seen or heard from Fernandez since Christmas 2017, causing worry among his friends.
Upon entering his apartment, the police discovered Fernandez’s lifeless body and suspected foul play. According to the district attorney’s office, Fernandez’s hands and feet were bound, and his mouth was taped shut. Authorities determined that he had died from suffocation. According to the district attorney’s office, the people living in Fernandez’s apartment complex regarded him as a “kind and grandfatherly figure.” He relied on daily assistance for his daily activities, but he did not have any family members nearby.
Over a month before his death, Keator had moved in with Fernandez under the arrangement that she would assist him in return for a place to stay. As per the district attorney’s office, “Instead of providing help, she permitted her boyfriend to visit regularly, ultimately leading to the planned robbery and murder of Fernandez.”
Worried neighbors notified the apartment management after not hearing from Fernandez, and maintenance workers discovered his body inside a locked bedroom. Baytown Police arrested Keator and Gilbert on suspicion of suffocating Fernandez and stealing his cell phone, television, and ATM card. They were initially charged with capital murder. Gilbert had previously entered a guilty plea in exchange for a 60-year prison sentence.
Keator pleaded guilty without a plea agreement, and her sentencing was determined by a judge following a punishment hearing. The judge later learned that Keator had “provided crucial evidence against her co-defendant and had agreed to testify against him, even without the promise of leniency.”
During the sentencing, Harris County District Judge Frank Aguilar stated that Keator would have faced a much longer prison term if she had not cooperated with the prosecutors. Both Gilbert and Keator will be required to serve at least half of their sentences before becoming eligible for parole. Ogg expressed in a statement, “Elderly and disabled individuals in our community are particularly susceptible to becoming victims of violence. This couple exploited this man’s kindness and deserves to spend decades behind bars.”