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Homeless man pleads not guilty in Chinatown beating deaths

Randy Santos during his arraignment in criminal court

Randy Santos during his arraignment in criminal court for the murder of four homeless men in Manhattan on Oct. 6. Credit: AP/Rashid Umar Abbasi

A homeless man facing murder charges in the beating deaths of four men as they slept on the New York City streets pleaded not guilty after he was held in a psychiatric ward for nearly a month .

Randy Santos, 24, was arraigned Monday on an indictment that also included attempted murder charges in the beating of a man who survived the Oct. 5 attack in Manhattan's Chinatown neighborhood.

Santos appeared in court in an orange jail suit with his hands cuffed behind his back. He is being held without bail and was due to be returned to the prison ward at Bellevue Hospital after his court appearance.

Prosecutors say Santos confessed to bludgeoning the men with a metal rod. His lawyer told the judge that they will likely pursue a mental health-related defense.

He's also charged in the nonfatal beating about a week earlier of another man who was sleeping on a bench in midtown Manhattan. In that case, prosecutors said, Santos attempted to pick the man up and throw him in the Hudson River.

In the Oct. 5 attack, officers responding to a 911 call found Santos carrying a metal pipe covered with blood and hair near Mulberry Street and Canal Street. Assistant District Attorney Alfred Peterson said Santos told police he was the man shown on security video walking with the weapon in the area where the killings happened.

The dead ranged in age from 39 to 83. Three of them were homeless. The fourth had a home on Staten Island but may have fallen asleep while visiting his friends on the streets.

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