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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Phoenix care home owner arrested in fatal beating of incapacitated resident: Police

The owner of a Phoenix adult care home has been arrested in the beating death of a resident who police said was mentally ill and incapacitated due to a brain injury from an automobile accident.

Valera Catuna is seen in a photo released by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
Valera Catuna is seen in a photo released by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

Valera Catuna, 52, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of second-degree murder in the Oct. 21, 2020, death of William Griswold, 53, police said.

A police probable-cause statement released Thursday said investigators determined that Catuna repeatedly struck Griswold during an argument.

The death was initially reported by Catuna’s spouse to be from natural causes but an autopsy found multiple chest and abdominal injuries, including numerous broken ribs, a torn spleen and internal bleeding, the statement said.

Police began investigating after being contacted by a case manager of another resident who had witnessed the alleged assault, the statement said.

State agencies were notified of Catuna’s arrest and responded to ensure that remaining residents of the care home were safe and receiving proper care, police said.

Catuna remained jailed Thursday. Online court records didn’t list a defense attorney who might comment on his behalf about the allegations.

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