Sleeping homeless man beaten to death with sledgehammer

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A Cockrell Hill man has been arrested for the savage, sledgehammer murder of a homeless man. Jail records show Adelaido Esparza, 57, is being held on $500,000 bond in connection with the Nov. 20 attack on Daniel Slusser.

Slusser was asleep on a sidewalk outside a business at 2151 Fort Worth Avenue when someone drove up in an SUV got a sledgehammer and began to beat Slusser in the head, according to an arrest affidavit.   “The complainant had the blanket pulled over his head, covering his entire body.” The affidavit says.

Investigators obtained surveillance video showing the entire attack.  The video shows a “White or Latin male wearing a blue overall outfit with a baseball hat carrying a full size sledgehammer with blood on the hammer and gray duct tape wrapped around the handle” the affidavit said.

Police were able to conduct a search of vehicles that matched the SUV seen in the video and came up with a match naming Esparza as the owner of the same make and model.  Police saw a bloody sledgehammer with gray tape on the handle in the back of Esparza’s SUV, according to the court records.

Esparza was questioned and arrested.  He has denied involvement, according to the affidavit.

The attack underscores a growing problem facing the homeless.  With the pandemic, there are not only more people out of work and forced to live on the streets, there are fewer available beds in shelters.  It’s a double hit, according to homeless advocates.

“Since there’s no four walls protecting them, they do become more susceptible to crime” said Candress Suber, a director at the Family Gateway shelter. She and others say the lack of protection and the vulnerability while sleeping make the homeless easy targets.

Police have not disclosed a motive for the attack. “Witnesses who has (sic) a close relationship with the suspect confirmed that he is the person on the still photos that was taken (sic) from the surveillance video at the offense location as the same person who was carrying the sledgehammer with the blood on the head of the hammer, and the same person that entered the black Honda Passport right after the offense. Witness also confirmed the suspect identity” said the arrest affidavit.​