A man accused of raping and torturing two women held captive in a camper and, later, of knifing a bailiff during a court hearing was badly beaten by another inmate in Los Angeles County Jail, officials said Tuesday.
Paul Garcia, 38, remained in critical condition after more than a week in intensive care. He suffered a fractured skull and a collapsed lung as a result of the beating, Sheriff's Lt. Taylor Moorehead said.
Inmate Edward Harris, convicted of murder and awaiting transportation to state prison, argued with Garcia, then "seized the opportunity" to beat and kick him, Moorehead said. Deputies rushed to Garcia's rescue but not in time to spare him from serious injury, the lieutenant said.
"He beat him real hard and real fast," Moorehead said, adding that Harris is over 6 feet tall.
The beating took place on Aug. 8 but was not disclosed until now. Harris has been charged with attempted murder.
Garcia was removed from intensive care on Monday but cannot talk and has difficulty breathing, according to the prosecutor in the case, Deputy Dist. Atty. Andrew J. McMullen. "At one point, they were concerned he would not live," said McMullen, who was briefed by the judge in the case.
Garcia's attorney, Sue Brown, said she was concerned about whether her client's mental capacities are intact after the beating.
Brown said her client was in no condition to attend his next scheduled court hearing on Monday.
The beating in jail was only the latest twist in a bizarre case.
Garcia, who also uses the name of Robert Gonzalez, is accused of using chains and electrical shocks to hold two immigrant women captive in a camper. He, his alleged victims, two female accomplices and five small children lived in the camper as it crisscrossed poor neighborhoods of Los Angeles for months.
He is accused of repeatedly raping the two women, who finally escaped before Garcia was arrested last fall.
During a hearing for the rape case last June, Garcia allegedly pulled a knife on a bailiff who was taking him to court, slashing the bailiff's face and chest. He was charged with attempted murder, attempted escape and other counts related to that attack.
Garcia was injured in a raucous scuffle with deputy marshals who rescued the bailiff and subdued Garcia. Because of his injuries in that incident, Garcia's hearings were postponed until this month.
Times staff writer Bernice Hirabayashi contributed to this story.