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Dementia patient to stay in custody two more months

John Furman holds picture of himself as a World War II soldier.
Image Credit: Courtesy Greater Vernon Museum and Archives
September 25, 2013 - 8:30 AM

VERNON - The 95-year-old dementia patient accused of murdering his roommate in a Vernon care home will have spent at least three months in custody before the courts decide what to do with him.

John Furman, a decorated Canadian war veteran, has been at Hillside Centre in Kamloops for a month already awaiting a psychiatric assessment that no one applied for until yesterday. Crown and defense lawyers met in Vernon provincial court to ask that Furman’s case be put over until Nov. 27. Defense lawyer Glen Verdurmen said the application is being made in Kamloops Supreme Court. The results of the assessment are expected to be ready for the November court date.

Nearly a dozen of Furman’s friends were at court yesterdat, though none wished to speak with the media.

“(He’s) 95 years of age, he has a very good record in the community, he was a member of the Devil’s Brigade, and he’s obviously by the number of people here very well loved in the community,” Verdurmen said of his client.

The results of the psychiatric assessment should reveal whether Furman, a dementia patient, can be held criminally responsible for the crime. Verdurmen expects the assessment will have a “big impact” on the Crown’s decision to pursue the charges or not.

Verdurmen couldn’t say why it has taken over a month to start the assessment, though he did note “the system sometimes works slowly.”

“It’s two parallel systems (the Health Act and the Criminal Code) that are shadowing each other at this point,” he said.

Furman suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. He shared a room for only a short while before the incident occurred sometime in the night of Aug. 18 while the victim, William May, 85, was asleep.

Crown counsel for the case Howard Pontious said he has no desire to pursue the second degree murder charge. If Furman is found not criminally responsible by mental disorder  then he’ll likely live out his remaining days in a secured psychiatric ward.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.

—This story was edited for content and style at 11:46 a.m. today and at 11 a.m. Sept. 25 to include results of court hearing.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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