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By Miriam Raftery

Updated 5:30 p.m. with preliminary autopsy results.

March 30, 2022 (San Diego) – Derek Baker, 56, an inmate found beaten in his cell in the San Diego Central Jail on March 12, died today of his injuries. Sheriff’s homicide detectives identified Baker’s cellmate, 28-year-old Patrick Ferncase, as the assailant. The case has been referred to the District Attorney to file charges against Ferncase.

Baker was arrested Jan. 17 for a misdemeanor violation of a restraining order and was sentenced Feb. 17 for this violation. He was also charged on Feb. 3 for failing to register as a sex offender. Ironically, charges against Baker were dismissed March 22 after he was brutally assaulted and not expected to survive, and he was released from custody while remaining in grave condition.

The Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board was notified of the death but did not respond, according to Lieutenant Chris Steffen.  An autopsy ruled the cause of death a homicide, though the cause is pending lab results and further evaulation.

The cellmate accused of killing Baker had a reported history of extreme violence.

Ferncase was arrested Dec. 21 by Carlsbad Police for attempted murder, elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon after he allegedly brutally attacked a janitor outside a theater. The victim suffered brain damage and a skull fracture and was a stranger to Ferncase, the San Diego Reader reported. 

The Sheriff’s department is under scrutiny from county and state legislators after at least 186 deaths of inmates in custody in recent years, more than any other major county in California.  A state auditor found conditions in county detention facilities so dangerous that it recommended legislative reforms.

The issue of jail deaths is expected to be a hot topic in the upcoming race for Sheriff, following the retirement of long-time Sheriff Bill Gore earlier this year. 


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