NEW YORK — A homeless man charged in the beating deaths of four men as they slept on New York City streets says he has no memory of the assault.
“I was looking for bottles for cash,” Randy Santos told The New York Times in a jail interview published Monday. “I needed the money because I was living on the streets and at an abandoned building. That’s all I remember.”
Santos, 24, has pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges, but prosecutors have said he told police that he committed the killings in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood on Oct. 5. He was carrying a bloodied metal pipe when arrested, police said.
“I don’t understand the charges or why I am here,” the New York Times quoted him as saying in the interview. The newspaper said Santos, who speaks only Spanish, blamed a language barrier for his confusion.
A Spanish interpreter was by his side at his arraignment in October.
The victims — Chuen Kok, Anthony Manson, Florencio Moran and Nazario Vásquez Villegas — were bludgeoned to death as they slept on streets around a square a few blocks from City Hall, police said. The dead ranged in age from 39 to 83.
A fifth man was critically injured.
Santos has at least six prior arrests, including two on charges he punched a stranger on a subway train and choked another man at an employment agency, police said. He also was arrested in May after being accused of punching a homeless man inside a Brooklyn shelter.
“How could they let him walk free?” Andrea Dazio, an Italian investment banker who said Santos abruptly punched him in the face on the subway in December 2017, said to the Times. “I knew he was going to hurt other people.”
Dazio, who was vacationing in New York with his family, said he told prosecutors he was willing to testify against Santos but was never called.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office said the case was dismissed and sealed.