He beat 2 coworkers with a crowbar in Norfolk, prosecutors say, and … – The Virginian-Pilot

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Edwin Meza (Courtesy of the Norfolk Sheriff's Office)
A 28-year-old construction worker beat a fellow laborer to death with a crowbar, prosecutors said, but a psychiatrist has determined he was insane when he did it.
Edwin Meza of Newport News was tearing up floorboards with three other workers on Aug. 18 when he attacked two of them with the crowbar, prosecutors said.
One of them, 27-year-old Eliane Dionny Pernas Fuster, got knocked out. He held on at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital for three months, but he never woke up.
Meza was charged with two counts of aggravated malicious wounding, but Norfolk prosecutors changed one charge to second-degree murder after Pernas died Nov. 19.
Meza’s lawyer, Suzanne Richmond, admitted her client killed Pernas and beat a second man so badly he needed three surgeries. But, she added, he was insane when he did it so he’s not legally responsible.
During a hearing Tuesday, Circuit Judge Jerrauld Jones said a psychiatrist agreed, determining Meza was insane when he attacked the men.
But the doctor acknowledged he had limited information when he evaluated Meza, said Amanda Howie, spokeswoman for the commonwealth’s attorney. State law allows for a second psychiatrist’s evaluation, which is in the works, she added.
Regardless, psychiatrists offer expert opinions to a judge or jury, who ultimately decides on sanity, and that hasn’t happened, Richmond said.
On Aug. 18, Meza, Pernas and two other men were ripping up wooden floorboards near the front door of a house on Lake Whitehurst, just west of Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. Some had known each other for a couple of days; others, maybe a month. The job brought them together, and they knew one another by last names and nicknames.
Around lunchtime that day, Meza – whom the workers called “The Old Man” – took an iron crowbar and attacked Pernas and Yojander Reyes without provocation or warning, two witnesses testified at an October court hearing.
“He picked up a bar, and he kind of vaulted upon the two guys, and he began to hit them,” fellow worker Santiago Calderone testified.
Meza hit Pernas twice in the head, he said.
Then Meza chased Reyes out the door, beating him in the arm and head, witnesses said at the hearing.
Police found a large pool of blood just to the right of the front door and a bloody crowbar outside, near the driveway.
Calderone and Reyes said Meza hadn’t been arguing or fighting with anyone before he attacked. In fact, Reyes said, he’d known Meza only about a week, and they’d never argued. Meza simply picked up the crowbar and started swinging.
He broke Reyes’ skull, and it took three operations to put screws in his arm. Reyes testified he can barely hear out of one ear, and one side of his face is paralyzed. He wore a helmet to the October hearing to protect the indentation in his skull.
Norfolk Detective Jose Oyola testified that Meza told him he beat his co-workers because they hurt kids, although he couldn’t tell Oyola where he’d gotten that information.
During an interview in the hours after the attack, Meza also told Oyola he felt Pernas and Reyes were “messing with his head mentally.”
He said he’d thought about hurting people since he was a child.
Meza is from Honduras, doesn’t speak English and has been in Hampton Roads for six to nine years, court records show.
He has no prior criminal record, according to court documents.
Jonathan Edwards, 757-446-2536, jonathan.edwards@pilotonline.com Follow @VPjedwards on Twitter.
Copyright © 2022, The Virginian-Pilot
Copyright © 2022, The Virginian-Pilot


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