A 39-year-old Las Vegas man on Tuesday pleaded guilty, but mentally ill, to beating to death his landlord in 2009.
Jonathan Van Hook said he was guilty of second-degree murder of a victim older than 60 as part of a deal with prosecutors, who negotiated the case down from a first-degree murder count.
He faces 11 years to life in prison. A sentencing hearing was set for Jan. 14 before District Judge James Bixler.
Van Hook was ruled competent to stand trial after three trips to Lakes Crossing, Nevada’s mental health facility in Sparks. He is described as a bipolar manic depressive who must be forcibly medicated to quell violent behavior.
Van Hook said at Tuesday’s hearing that “it was a fight” and he never intended to kill his landlord.
The trial was set to begin Monday, but was called off after prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo and defense lawyer Chris Oram reached the agreement.
Las Vegas police were called May 3, 2009, to the 4700 block of East Boston Avenue, near Nellis Boulevard and Sahara Avenue, after a neighbor saw the 6-foot-2-inch, 244-pound Van Hook walking around a driveway with blood on him.
Prosecutors said Van Hook pummeled Morteza Mostafavi-Kashani, 62, with his fists, breaking all of the man’s ribs, splitting the victim’s liver open and causing deep hemorrhaging in his brain.
Police found Mostafavi-Kashani face-down in a pool of blood in the laundry area of Van Hook’s residence, his dentures were next to his body.
According to a Las Vegas police report, Van Hook at first denied he hit his landlord. But he later told investigators, “If something happened and I was involved, it’s not cuz I brought it. It’s because he brought it to me and I just reacted, man,” the report said.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review journal.com or 702-380-1039.