A convicted caretaker awaits sentencing after nearly beating a WWII veteran to death City of North Port
City of North Port

A former caretaker has been found guilty of attempting to murder a World War II veteran by beating him excessively with his own oxygen tank.

Elena Erickson, 47, was convicted on Friday of attempted second-degree murder and aggravated abuse of an elderly person and is scheduled to be sentenced on October 13. Her victim, Michael Tristano, was a waist gunner and ball-turret gunner during World War II, and he flew 35 combat missions in a B-17 bomber.

“It’s ironic that the instrument that was supposed to sustain his life was then used as a weapon to almost take his life,” Assistant State Attorney Kennedy Legler said in a statement. “The victim and State Attorney’s Office are very pleased with the jury’s verdict.”

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During Erickson’s week-long trial, Tristano testified that he was sitting at the dining room table on May 15 when Erickson hit him over the head twice with his oxygen tank. The pair then became engaged in a struggle, and Erickson continued to further injure the victim. She then forced him to sit at the table for another hour while she attempted to clean up his blood before hitting him two more times with the tank.

Erickson’s final blow caused Tristano to drift in and out of consciousness overnight. Tristano’s daughter called Erickson the next morning when she couldn’t reach her father and asked the caregiver to go check on him. Upon her return to the home, Erickson called the police and told paramedics that the man had fallen. Doctors at a nearby hospital didn’t buy her story and notified police.

When he regained consciousness, Tristano was able to tell officers what had happened.

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