Homeless suspect arrested in beating
A homeless man remains in Mesa County Jail on $200,000 bond in connection with a weekend fight in which a witness said he bragged of beating another homeless man with a cane.
The victim is in no immediate danger of dying, but it’s unlikely that he’ll ever speak again, a prosecutor said.
Thomas “TJ” Mundlin, 30, was arrested Wednesday after Grand Junction police investigated the beating, which occurred Saturday.
Witnesses told investigators that Mundlin grew angry with the victim as he and two others were at a house cooking food that the victim bought, according to court papers.
Mundlin and the victim left the house together, and Mundlin returned alone about an hour and a half later.
Mundlin told investigators the victim, a 39-year-old man, struck him first, and Mundlin defended himself.
He also said he didn’t remember everything clearly because he was intoxicated at the time, an arrest affidavit said.
Mundlin had blood on him and was carrying the victim’s backpack, fanny pack and food stamps, according to the affidavit.
Mundlin told the others he thought he had killed the victim and “described hitting the victim on the head with his (Mundlin’s) metal walking cane,” the affidavit said.
Law enforcement was summoned when the victim was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital, where he underwent surgery.
The victim suffered multiple blows to the back of his head causing lacerations, skull fractures and bleeding on the brain, the affidavit said.
Mundlin, who appeared via video hookup Thursday before Mesa County Judge Craig Henderson, was in a wheelchair and nodded as Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein noted that Mundlin has difficulty making court appearances.
His record includes seven instances in which he failed to appear for court dates.
He also is on probation and has two, possibly three felonies, including one for failure to register as a sex offender, Rubinstein said.
Grand Junction police detectives worked with three officers who will comprise the department’s homeless-outreach team to identify witnesses and identify Mundlin as a suspect. The officers arrested Mundlin on Wednesday on a sidewalk near 32 1/8 and E roads.
The nature of police work requires officers to have direct contact with the homeless people in the camps along the river, “and by building relationships and connections with them we can work on reducing homelessness in our community while at the same time solving some major crimes,” police spokeswoman Kate Porras said.
Mundlin is to appear before Mesa County District Judge Tom Deister on Dec. 17.