H.B. man faces trial in veteran's death

Opening statements were scheduled to begin Wednesday in the trial of a Huntington Beach man accused of beating and causing the death of a World War II veteran during a robbery on Veterans Day in 2003, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

Curtis James Hill, 29, is charged with one felony count of murder during a robbery and faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

Hill and his co-defendant, John Kirk McKinney, also a Huntington Beach resident, allegedly entered 77-year-old Cecil Warren's parked van around 6 p.m. on Nov. 11, 2003, with the intention of stealing from it.

Warren was working as a handyman, cleaning the parking lot of a bank in Huntington Beach, when he noticed Hill and McKinney in his van.

The two allegedly attacked Warren, kicked him and hit him in the head, robbed him of his wallet, then left him on the ground and fled the scene, prosecutors said.

Warren was found bleeding about 30 minutes later by a pedestrian who called 911. Warren gave a brief description of Hill and McKinney before losing consciousness and falling into a coma, according to prosecutors.

Hill pleaded guilty to robbery and aggravated assault with sentencing enhancement for committing a crime against a vulnerable elder and was sentenced Oct. 10, 2006, to nine years in prison. McKinney was also found guilty of the same charges and was sentenced Feb. 2, 2007, to four years in prison.

Warren spent almost the next four years in a coma, then died Sept. 22, 2007, prosecutors said.

Hill and McKinney were expected to be released this year, but were charged with murder Sept. 4, 2009, as a direct consequence of the beating. McKinney faces the same charges and sentence as Hill; his trial is scheduled at a later date.


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