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Man charged in death of asthma victim

August 8, 2017 GMT

BRIDGEPORT - A man awaiting trial on gun charges was charged Tuesday in the death of a former Stratford man who police said died from an asthma attack after being pepper sprayed.

Latrel Baker, 20, of Burnsford Avenue, was charged with first-degree manslaughter in the April 27 death of 26-year-old Victor Diaz.

During Baker’s arraignment hearing Tuesday afternoon, Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Tatiana Messina urged Superior Court Judge William Holden to order Baker held in lieu of $150,000 bond because of the seriousness of the allegations and the fact Baker is awaiting trial in Meriden on several gun charges.

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However, the judge instead reduced the bond to $75,000.

Police said Baker and the victim had been friends but had gotten into an argument. They said the argument led to a fight between Baker and Diaz on Dewhirst Street.

In the middle of the fight Diaz stopped and exclaimed he was having an asthma attack and went to his car to get his inhaler, police said. But police said Baker pulled Diaz out of the car and continued attacking him.

At one point, police said Diaz told Baker, “I love you, I don’t want to fight you, I can’t breathe,” and then sat in the back seat of Diaz’s car and asked to be taken to the hospital. But Baker’s sister, Latia Quarles, then sprayed the victim in the face with pepper spray, police said.

Diaz was taken by friends to St. Vincent’s Medical Center where Diaz died three days later.

Quarles, 23, of Burnsford Avenue, was arrested last week in connection with the crime and charged with first-degree manslaughter. She is being held in lieu of $50,000 bond.

“This was a brutal attack on a young man from Bridgeport by those who were supposedly his friends,” said Police Chief Armando Perez. “Those who participated in this horrible crime are one-by-one being held accountable thanks to the hard work and persistence of the Bridgeport Police. If you do violence to another person in Bridgeport, we will come after you and we will find you, and you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”