MARTINEZ (BCN) – An inmate accused of killing a nurse at the county jail in Martinez late last month pleaded not guilty to murder charges on Monday, according to court records.
Aaron Nygaard, a 34-year-old El Cerrito resident, was arrested on the morning of Oct. 25 in El Cerrito after a resident allegedly caught him burglarizing a home, police said.
Nygaard was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility that morning, where he went through a daylong screening process, Contra Costa County sheriff’s spokesman Jimmy Lee said.
Shortly after 4 p.m. Nygaard allegedly faked a seizure and was brought to the nurses station in the intake area of the jail, where the victim, Cynthia Palomata, began providing medical care, Lee said.
Nygaard allegedly admitted that he had faked the seizure to get out of the holding cell he had been placed in, and then, without warning or provocation, he allegedly struck Palomata on the head with a lamp, Lee said.
Palomata died from her injuries at the hospital three days later.
Nygaard, who is now being held in Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County, is scheduled to return to Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez on Jan. 19 to set a date for a preliminary hearing.
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