Tustin man suspected of murdering homeless man in N.B. previously convicted of deadly assault

A homeless man sleeps with his belongings packed in bags next to him at the Newport Pier.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

A 22-year-old Tustin man in custody for what authorities believe is his involvement in the death of a homeless man early Saturday morning has a prior history of assaults.

Ezekial Izaiah Person was arrested Oct. 16 after Newport Beach police responded to reports of an unconscious man — identified Monday as 59-year-old Ruben Gonzalez — near Newport Pier at 12:03 a.m. Saturday.

Preliminary investigation suggests Gonzalez was in a physical altercation with another adult male prior to his death.

Person was located and arrested in the area.

Court records on Wednesday did not indicate when Person will appear in court for an arraignment in the case, but he is expected to appear Nov. 16 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana for a probation violation arraignment in an unrelated assault case.

Anaheim Police Department spokesman Sgt. Shane Carringer said Wednesday that in the earlier case Person and co-defendant Joshua Harris were involved in a fight with multiple combatants. An individual was stabbed as a result and four suspects were arrested, but only Person and Harris were charged in the incident.

Person did not stab the victim, Carringer said.

Person was recently released on probation after pleading guilty on Sept. 23 to the felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm, misdemeanor charges of assault with force likely to produce great bodily harm and driving without a valid driver’s license in the unrelated attack, which took place in Anaheim in August 2020.

An additional sentencing enhancement charge for inflicting great bodily harm was dismissed.

Person was sentenced to 168 days in jail, which he had already served. He was also assigned to two years of formal probation and was required to attend an anger management program.

Harris, Person’s co-defendant in that 2020 knifing incident, pleaded guilty to charges of attempted murder with a sentencing enhancement for inflicting great bodily injury.

Jail records indicate Person is being held without bail and Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Office spokesman Sgt. Todd Hylton said that an autopsy has been conducted, but the case was still pending as of Wednesday afternoon.

The Orange County district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

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