'OBVIOUSLY A TRAGIC SITUATION'
VERNON - The dementia patient accused of murdering his roommate in a Vernon care home has been found unfit to stand trial.
John “Jack” Furman, 95, was charged with the second degree murder of William May, 85, in August. They were both patients of a dementia ward at Vernon Jubilee Hospital and had been sharing a room for only three days.
Following his arrest, Furman was admitted to a psychiatric centre in Kamloops where doctors assessed and treated his dementia. Today in court, Crown counsel entered a stay of proceedings, effectively terminating the prosecution.
“Mr. Furman’s a 95-year-old man with severe dementia,” Crown counsel Stephen Lawhead said. “All of the available medical and psychiatric information indicates he’s unfit to stand trial and that there’s no reasonable chance he will ever be fit.”
Lawhead said the evidence indicated Furman was in a delusional state caused by his dementia when he fatally assaulted May. Furman remains confused and disoriented about his current circumstances and those of the assault.
Furman is a decorated war veteran and beloved community member, remembered by friends as a kind, generous and funny man who didn’t have a mean bone in his body. Furman has no direct family, but friends have appeared throughout his court proceedings to support him.
William May, on the other hand, is survived by three sons. They cast no blame on Furman for what happened, and hope the health care system can learn from the incident. Lawhead said May’s family was notified a few days ago of the Crown’s decision to stay the charges.
“Obviously a very tragic situation for them, but in all the circumstances they were very understanding,” Lawhead said.
In assessing whether to proceed with the charges, the Crown proceeds if there's a substantial likelihood of conviction and if there is public interest in pursuing the prosecution.
“In all the circumstances there’s no public interest in continuing with the prosecution,” Lawhead said.
Furman will remain at the Hillside Centre in Kamloops under the care of a psychiatric team, Lawhead said. He may eventually be moved to another medical facility, but he will never go home. A release from the Criminal Justice Branch says "the branch has been advised that 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."
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at email@example.com, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.
— Edited at 11:09 a.m. to add further detail from court proceedings.