SAN DIEGO — An inmate died Tuesday from injuries he suffered in an assault while in his own cell at the San Diego Central Jail, authorities said.
San Diego County Sheriff’s Department identified Derek Baker, 56, as the deceased. He died around 10:20 a.m.
The attack happened about 1 p.m. on March 12 when another incarcerated person alerted deputies Baker was hurt in his cell, according to Lt. Chris Steffen. When deputies arrived, they found Baker injured as a result of the assault and provided treatment as they waited for fire department personnel to transport him to the hospital.
Baker’s condition at the time was “grave, and he was not expected to survive his injuries,” the sheriff’s official said.
Detectives identified Patrick Ferncase, 28, as the person suspected of assaulting Baker.
“Baker was housed in the same cell as Ferncase,” Steffen said. “Baker and Ferncase were the only people housed in the cell.”
In Dec. 2021, authorities said Ferncase was arrested by Carlsbad police and booked into Vista Detention Facility on suspicion of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon (not a firearm) and elder abuse causing injury or death. He was later transferred to the jail.
Baker was arrested by San Diego police Jan. 17 and booked into jail on suspicion of violating a restraining order, Steffen said. He also was charged Feb. 3 on suspicion of failure to register as a sex offender. Later on Feb. 17, he was sentenced for the violation of a restraining order.
The San Diego District Attorney’s Office dismissed Baker’s charges of failure to register as a sex offender and he was released from custody seven days before his death. Tanya Sierra, a spokeswoman for the DA’s office, said Baker’s charge was dismissed “in the interest of justice,” stating, “he was injured to such a degree that even if he were to come back from his injury, he would likely be unable to register.”
“Additionally, the court had indicated on the record that when Mr. Baker pleaded guilty, he was going to be sentenced to probation,” Sierra said. “As a result, he likely would have been released on probation.”
Sheriff’s officials say homicide detectives are working with the district attorney’s office to determine the appropriate charges against Ferncase.
The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office has been notified of Baker’s death as his autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday, according to the sheriff’s department. The Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board was notified of the death and did not respond.