John Furman, 95, accused of killing roommate, has charge stayed

A 95-year-old Vernon man accused of killing his care home roommate no longer faces a second-degree murder charge, after a ruling that his dementia made him unfit to stand trial.

Accused in care home slaying of William May, 85, suffers from dementia

A court found John Furman, seen here in a photograph on display at the Vernon Museum, was in a delusional state when his roommate at a care home was attacked and killed. (CBC)

A 95-year-old Vernon man accused of killing his care home roommate no longer faces a second-degree murder charge, after a ruling that his dementia made him unfit to stand trial.

In August, police alleged John Furman attacked William May, 85, at Interior Health's Polson Special Care Facility — a secure facility providing care for people who have dementia complicated by psychiatric and behavioural issues.

On Wednesday the Crown found Furman was in a delusional state at the time of the assault, arising from his advanced dementia, and as such, concluded the public interest no longer required his prosecution.

In a press release, Neil MacKenzie, who is with the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch, said Furman remains confused and disoriented as to both his current circumstances and the circumstances surrounding the incident.

"The evidence indicated that Mr. Furman caused the death of Mr. May," said MacKenzie.

"However, it was clear from the outset that Mr. Furman's mental state at the time of the alleged offence would 
be a significant issue at any trial."

The death sparked criticism of how seniors with dementia are cared for in B.C. and prompted calls for the province to do a better job of protecting seniors with dementia from violence at the hands of other patients.

MacKenzie said Furman’s physical health is frail and he will remain in a medical facility with measures available to address any risk that he might present to other patients, to staff or to himself. 

Read the media statement about the ruling online

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