Four men were arrested and charged with murder Thursday in what Anchorage police described as a brutal attack on a 50-year-old man who was sleeping outside a building off East Tudor Road.
Police said surveillance video showed the four men punching, kicking and using a metal road sign to pummel Ferdinand Marquez, a 50-year-old seasonal fisherman who sometimes stayed at the nearby Anchorage Gospel Rescue Mission. One of the men stood over Marquez smashing the road sign into his head repeatedly, police said.
David Walent, 24, is charged with first- and second-degree murder and first-degree robbery and has a $1 million bail. He is a fugitive wanted in California for a parole violation stemming from a 2011 robbery conviction, according to court documents. Jerrick Blankenship, 18, and Matt Martin, 22, have been charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree robbery; Lewis Martin, 33, was charged with one count of second-degree murder, and all three are being held on a $250,000 bail.
Walent told police they attacked Marquez, described as 5-foot-5 and 120 pounds, because he had jumped him a few days earlier, said Anchorage police detective Sgt. Slav Markiewicz.
An employee of Anchorage Community Mental Health Services found Marquez bleeding heavily from his head and not breathing under an overhang at the East Tudor Road building at 6:50 a.m. Wednesday, police said. The employee called 911 and performed CPR until police and medics arrived.
Doctors pronounced Marquez dead at the Alaska Native Medical Center.
A video camera directly over where Marquez slept captured several minutes of the attack around midnight Wednesday.
Marquez was not a client of the mental health facility.
The video showed Walent walk by, seem to recognize Marquez and throw a heavy traffic barricade at him, Markiewicz said. Two other men with Walent -- Blankenship and Matt Martin -- joined in and began to kick and punch Marquez, according to the charges filed Thursday.
The video shows that Marquez didn't fight back or provoke the group of men, Markiewicz said. The average age of Marquez's assailants is 24 years old -- less than half Marquez's age. Walent stands at about 6-foot-5 and weighs more than 200 pounds.
Walent told detectives he moved to Alaska in June to "start life over," the charges say. He also said he'd gotten "really drunk" the night of the assault.
He came back a few minutes later with Lewis Martin, Markiewicz said. At that point, Walent picked up a large metal road sign and brought it down with all his strength on Marquez's head about six times, according to the charges filed by prosecutors.
"You can't do that and (not) expect someone to die," the detective said. Walent told police he attacked Marquez because he thought Marquez and someone else had jumped him two days before, Markiewicz said. There was no indication Walent had suffered any injuries.
All the suspects except Blankenship live together in an apartment in the 4200 block of Laurel Street near where Marquez was found, police said. According to the charges, the men went through his backpack after the attack; police say they found Marquez's personal belongings in the apartment.
The suspects appeared in court Thursday afternoon.
Most spoke to the judge with distant voices and gazes into the crowd to look for loved ones.
Walent teared up as the judge uttered "first-degree murder." Bail was set at $1 million. The first-degree charge stems from his use of the sign, Markiewicz said.
Walent had gotten into an argument with an employee at Alaska Liquor around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday and left, a store manager said. Shortly after, he returned to the store with bloody clothes and swollen knuckles saying he'd just beaten up someone because he "messed with him and his friends," police said.
Detectives canvassing the neighborhood learned from the store clerk that Walent worked at McDonald's on East Tudor and confirmed that with a restaurant manager who knew Walent's address, the charges say. As detectives headed to the Laurel Street apartment around 12:30 p.m., Matt Martin stepped outside with what looked like blood on his shirt.
Patrol officers spotted someone matching Walent's description running from the back of the apartment at 2:21 p.m., the charges say. Detectives apprehended him two minutes later.
Everyone in the apartment was taken to police headquarters for interviews. Matt and Lewis Martin are brothers who live in the apartment with their mother, the documents say. Lewis Martin has a long list of criminal convictions in Alaska from this year back to 1999. Among the convictions are drug possession, thefts, assaults and driving under the influence.
Matt Martin has criminal convictions in California for petty theft, vandalism, trespassing and burglary and drug possession, according to court documents. Blankenship has a California criminal history for burglary and carrying a concealed dagger.
Alaska Liquor manager Dominique Bursey described Walent as a regular who had moved to Anchorage from California and recently had his hours cut back at McDonald's. Walent started to yell and curse at a store employee Tuesday night after he asked for help with money, Bursey said.
"He didn't feel like she was hearing him out," she said.
Walent and Marquez both spent time at the Anchorage Gospel Rescue Mission over the summer. The mission operates a homeless shelter for men and women just down Tudor Road from the mental health building.
Mission staff recorded no altercations between them.
Both men also had lived in California.
Program director David Williams described Marquez as an unimposing man who made many friends during his time at the shelter.
A somber mood followed word of his death Thursday.
"He was just a really nice guy," Williams said. "It's just heartbreaking."
Marquez had stayed at the mission occasionally since 2004, Williams said. He stayed at the mission intermittently because of his seasonal job. His last visit to the mission was July 23.
Walent stayed a few days in June, a few days in July. His last night there was Aug. 21, Williams said.
"There were some times they were there at the same time," he said. "Whether there was any contact between them, there's no proof. There's no indication that there was any activity between them, verbally or physically."
The suspects are scheduled for a pre-indictment hearing Oct. 1.