Man Pleads Not Guilty to Attacking Elderly Woman at San Francisco General Hospital

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    A 29-year-old man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to three felony charges in connection with an alleged attack of an elderly woman at San Francisco General Hospital last Friday, prosecutors said. Cheryl Hurd reports. (Published Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014)

    A 29-year-old man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to three felony charges in connection with an alleged attack of an elderly woman at San Francisco General Hospital last Friday, prosecutors said.

    Orin Zebest pleaded not guilty to two felony assault charges and one count of elder abuse for the attack, which occurred at about 10:05 p.m. Friday, district attorney's office spokesman Alex Bastian said.

    MORE: 93-Year-Old Patient Attacked in Emergency Room

    Hospital officials said Zebest was on a psychiatric hold and was being transferred from the main emergency room to the psychiatric emergency room when he assaulted Mary Perez, an elderly woman who was also an emergency room patient.

    Zebest had initially also been booked on suspicion of attempted murder but was later rebooked on the assault and elder abuse allegations, sheriff's spokeswoman Susan Fahey said.

    Perez's daughter, Melba Ledezma, said she can't believe the San Francisco district attorney decided to drop the attempted murder charge against Zebest.

    "In the way he grabbed her, he took her by the neck," Ledezma said. "He tried to choke her. That's murder. I feel very bad."

    Diana Sandoval, Perez's granddaughter, said Zebest grabbed an IV poll and swung it toward her grandmother's head. Perez covered her head with her arms, which suffered cuts during the attack.

    Perez told her family she thought she was going to die in the emergency room during the attack.

    San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said an investigation on the attack is ongoing.

    "Here we have a 93-year-old woman that went to the hospital to seek medical assistance," Gascon said. "She's injured, that's very concerning to us. This is disturbing all the way around."

    San Francisco General Hospital officials also released a statement about the incident, and said they are "profoundly sorry that Ms. Perez was injured while in our care. We take patient safety very seriously and are reviewing our procedures."

    Zebest remains in jail in lieu of $225,000 bail and is scheduled to return to court on March 13 for a pre-hearing conference, Bastian said.

    NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd contributed to this report.