Murder charge still pending against US woman, 102
BOSTON (AP) — A 102-year-old woman accused of killing her 100-year-old roommate in a nursing home nearly five years ago is facing a second-degree murder charge.
Laura Lundquist — the oldest murder defendant in Massachusetts history — was 98 when she was charged in 2009 on allegations that she strangled Elizabeth Barrow, who was found with a plastic bag tied around her head in her bed at the Brandon Woods nursing home in Dartmouth.
Lundquist had a longstanding diagnosis of dementia and was ruled incompetent to stand trial. Since her indictment, she has been held at a state psychiatric hospital.
Barrow’s son, Scott, said he realizes Lundquist will likely never stand trial in his mother’s death.
“It would be like prosecuting a 2-year-old,” he said. “It’s just an awful thing that happened. How could she be held accountable for this when she’s not in her right mind?”
After Lundquist was indicted in 2009, Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter said prosecutors pursued a second-degree murder charge because they didn’t believe Lundquist had the cognitive ability to form premeditation, which must be proven in a first-degree murder case.
Sutter’s spokesman, Gregg Miliote, said the case remains open.
Scott Barrow is hoping a lawsuit he filed against the nursing home, its owners and operators will eventually be heard by a jury. In 2012, an arbitrator ruled in favor of the nursing home and found no negligence.
The Massachusetts Appeals Court heard arguments in the case in April and is expected to rule soon on whether the case can go to trial.
After Lundquist was indicted, Sutter said she suffered from paranoia and thought Barrow “was taking over the room” they shared at the nursing home. Sutter also said Lundquist had told Barrow she would soon get her bed by the window because she would outlive her.
Scott Barrow said he had asked nursing home staff to separate his mother and Lundquist, but they assured him the two were getting along. He said his mother did not want to leave the room because she and her husband had lived in the room together before he died in 2007.
Lundquist’s lawyer, Carl Levin, declined to comment on Lundquist or her health, citing the ongoing criminal case and health care privacy laws.
After Lundquist was charged, Scott Picone, then the nursing home’s chief of operations, said the two women had been offered room changes twice in the months before Barrow’s death in September 2009 but both declined. He said the two women were friendly toward one another and often told each other “goodnight” and “I love you.”
Picone did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday. Peter Knight, a lawyer representing Picone and other nursing home officials in Barrow’s lawsuit, also did not immediately return a call.