Now in Legal Rebels:
Posted Dec 14, 2009 12:26 pm CST
A 98-year-old woman has been sent to a mental hospital for a competency evaluation after being indicted on a second-degree murder charge in the death of her 100-year-old roommate.
The women lived in Brandon Woods nursing home in Dartmouth, Mass.
The defendant, Laura Lundquist, is thought to be the oldest person to face a murder charge in Massachusetts history, the Associated Press reports. Her lawyer, Carl Levin, said Lundquist has a diagnosis of dementia and issues of cognitive impairment.
“Without acknowledging her responsibility, it’s a sad event for both families,” Levin said. “It just really points to the issue of mental health with the elderly.”
The roommate, Elizabeth Barrow, was strangled and was found with a plastic bag tied around her head.
Bristol District Attorney Sam Sutter said Lundquist suffered from paranoia and thought Barrow “was taking over the room they shared,” according to the story. Prosecutors sought second-degree murder charges because they didn’t think Lundquist had the cognitive ability to form premeditation.
Sutter said Barrow had complained that Lundquist was making her life “a living hell,” the story says. The night before the murder, Lundquist had moved a table at the foot of Barrow’s bed to block her entrance to the bathroom and had punched an aide who removed it, according to Sutter.
Barrow’s son, Scott, told AP that he had asked the nursing home to separate the women, but he was assured they were getting along. The nursing home released a statement saying Barrow declined a room change in July and August, and the two women acted like sisters.