According to the Baytown Police Department, on Jan. 2, 2018, shortly after 1:30 p.m., officers responded to The Providence at Baytown Apartments to perform a welfare check on Fernandez. A caller told police that no one had seen or heard from Fernandez since Christmas 2017, and his friends were worried about his well-being.
Inside his apartment, police found Fernandez deceased and suspected foul play. According to the district attorney’s office, Fernandez’s hands and feet were bound, and his mouth was taped shut. Officials determined he had been suffocated.
People throughout Fernandez’s apartment complex reportedly knew him to be a "gentle, grandfatherly type," according to the district attorney’s office. He required daily assistance for everyday activities, but he didn’t have any family nearby.
Keator moved in with Fernandez more than a month before his death with the agreement she would help him in exchange for a place to live. According to the district attorney’s office, "Instead of helping, she allowed her boyfriend to routinely visit, culminating in the planned robbery and killing of Fernandez."
Concerned neighbors notified management after they hadn’t heard from Fernandez, and maintenance workers discovered his remains inside a locked bedroom.
Baytown Police arrested Keator and Gilbert on suspicion of suffocating Fernandez and stealing his cellphone, TV, and ATM card. They were initially charged with capital murder.
Gilbert previously entered a guilty plea in exchange for 60 years in prison.
Keator pleaded guilty but without a plea agreement, so she was sentenced by a judge following a punishment hearing. The judge later learned that Keator had "provided critical evidence against her co-defendant and had agreed to testify against him, even without promise of leniency."
At the sentencing, Harris County District Judge Frank Aguilar said Keator would have received a much longer prison sentence if she had not cooperated with prosecutors.
Gilbert and Keator will have to serve at least half of their sentences and then they will be eligible for parole.
Ogg said in a statement, "The elderly and disabled people in our community are extremely vulnerable to becoming victims of violence. This couple took advantage of this man’s kindness and deserves to spend decades in prison."