MACCLENNY, Fla. – A patient at Northeast Florida State Hospital faces a second-degree murder charge in the beating death of his roommate at the facility, News4Jax learned Friday.
Mark Stone, 44, was originally charged with aggravated battery on a person 65 years or older, but that charge was upgraded to murder after the 72-year-old victim died of his injuries, court records show.
The charge stems from an incident that occurred at Northeast Florida State Hospital in Macclenny in the early morning hours of April 5, according to a copy of Stone’s arrest report obtained by News4Jax.
Even though the incident happened about 1:30 a.m., Baker County deputies weren’t called until 5 p.m. that day. By then, the victim had been taken to UF Health Jacksonville, where he was listed in critical condition with rib and head injuries.
An administrator told detectives the incident wasn’t reported immediately because staff did not initially know the extent of the victim’s injuries, or about an admission made by the suspect who had told staff that he inflicted the victim’s injuries, according to the report.
Staffers told detectives the victim was found lying in a pool of blood on the floor of his room during the early morning hours. Surveillance video reviewed by investigators showed Stone exit the room at 1:33 a.m. A short time later, staff was seen entering the room.
Several pieces of clothing with reddish brown stains, which matched the outfit Stone was wearing in the surveillance footage, were found in a laundry basket belonging to Stone, according to the report. Sitting atop his bed was a handwritten note alluding to the incident.
“My own words. I could not just lay there and suffer bodily harm. I had to do what I could to prevent being struck. If any more is asked. I need to speak to leagal (sic) counsel,” the note stated.
Investigators found several more reddish-brown stains, believed to be dried blood, on the floor and walls near Stone’s bed, according to the report. Staff also gave investigators multiple bags of blood-stained towels and sheets that were taken from the room.
While speaking with Stone, investigators noticed his right hand was swollen and wrapped in bandages. Asked about his injuries, he said they were caused by a “tooth,” according to the report. Stone also said the victim struck him several times in the back of the head.
Two other men who shared a room with Stone and the victim told detectives they did not witness what occurred during the incident. One of them said he woke up the morning of April 5 to find a pool of blood on the floor and saw Stone walking around the room.
Based on the extent of the victim’s injuries, Stone was arrested April 7 on an aggravated battery charge. Once the victim died of his injuries, an amended charge of second-degree murder was filed May 10, the Clerk of Court’s office told News4Jax.
Anthony Nix, a resident at the hospital, said he feels changes need to be made at the facility. In March, he said, he sent a letter about staffing concerns to the Department of Children and Families, which oversees the state hospital. The hospital administrator responded, acknowledging that the unit could be better staffed, but that’s not always possible due to circumstances beyond the facility’s control.
Nix told News4Jax he received a letter from Stone this week asking for his help.
“I have heard the way the state is attempting to personally accuse me of second-degree murder. Well, everyone that works (there) and other residents are fully aware that he did like to bang his head on the wall,” the letter said in part. It goes on to say, “You know what I’m talking about, all the (expletive) that goes on there.”
Detectives said hospital security told them there is no protocol in place for separating the suspect from other patients, but a request had been filed to transfer him to a different facility.