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Man who suffered broken neck after arrest for hospital attack ordered released 'forthwith'

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 25. 2013 9:47PM

Fern Ornelas 

MANCHESTER — Fern Ornelas, who is accused of attacking a security guard at Elliot Hospital but who somehow suffered a broken neck in the hours after the alleged attack, was released from police custody Friday after agreeing to waive arraignment proceedings, according to paperwork filed in Manchester Circuit Court.

Meanwhile, Hillsborough County Attorney Patricia LaFrance has joined the state Attorney General's Office in investigating the circumstances of Ornelas' ordeal and how he broke his neck while in custody.

"At this time, we are aware of an assault which took place at the Elliot Hospital," LaFrance said Friday in a press release.

Ornelas' attorney, Andrew Winters of Concord, filed an agreement that was accepted by the Manchester Circuit Court on Friday that calls for Ornelas to be released on $15,000 personal recognizance bail — which means Ornelas does not have to pay bail or post a bond to be released, but would face a $15,000 fine should he not show up for court proceedings — "forthwith" and that he will sign paperwork within 24 hours of being released from a Boston hospital, where he is being treated for his injuries. The agreement was signed by Winters and Manchester police Capt. Robert Cunha.

Ornelas allegedly attacked Lawrence Bolduc on the night of Oct. 16 while Ornelas was a patient in the Elliot secure psychiatric evaluation unit waiting for a bed to open at New Hampshire Hospital, the state's acute psychiatric hospital.

As part of the agreement filed today, Ornelas must stay at least 100 yards away from Bolduc.

Bolduc, a retired New Hampshire State Police trooper, and Ornelas were treated in the emergency room for "significant" facial injuries. Ornelas then was "medically cleared" and released to the custody of Manchester police, according to police and hospital accounts. Police said Ornelas arrived at headquarters about 11 p.m. for booking, which was uneventful. Police said he refused the services of a bail commissioner, so no bail was set for him when he was taken to Valley Street jail about midnight Oct. 17.

About nine hours later, Ornelas was back in the Elliot Hospital emergency room in serious condition with a broken neck. He was later taken to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston for treatment.

Family members have said they have received no word on how Ornelas was injured. Manchester police have said nothing "inappropriate" occurred when Ornelas was in booking.

LaFrance's press release on Friday shed no new light on what may have happened.

"We know that at some point Mr. Ornelas was transported back to Elliot Hospital in serious condition. He was then transported to an out of state hospital with serious injuries," she said in the release.

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