May 23rd, 2024

Charges dismissed against man accused in healthcare facility death

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on April 23, 2024.


Charges against a 52-year-old man accused of killing a resident at St. Michael’s Health Centre 16 months ago in Lethbridge have been dismissed.

Charges of manslaughter and aggravated assault were dismissed last week in Lethbridge court of justice after Justice Eric Peterson ruled at the conclusion of a three-day preliminary hearing that there isn’t enough evidence to warrant a trial.

“He was not committed to stand trial,” Lethbridge lawyer Scott Hadford confirmed. “There was no evidence upon which a jury properly instructed could convict.”

The charges stem from an investigation which began Jan. 6 after police were notified of the death of 78-year-old Kenneth Hale at the care home in the 1400 block of 9 Avenue S.

“Hale’s body had previously been transported to Alberta office of the chief medical examiner in Calgary, and following an autopsy, his death was deemed suspicious,” police said in a news release following Hale’s death.

Police reported they believe Hale had been assaulted by another resident of St. Michael’s Health Centre on Dec. 26, 2022, then died of his injuries on Jan. 3.

“The victim and subject were known to one another and resided in the same unit,” the news release stated.

During a court appearance following his arrest, defence pointed out the accused suffers from cognitive and functional deficits, including Alzheimer’s disease, and his wife has power of attorney because of his advanced dementia.

“I don’t want to go into his private health records too much, of course, but there is mention from the doctors that he’s not in the position to have the capacity to deal with his life and all of his affairs,” Lebenzon said during a court hearing Feb. 23, 2023.

Red Young Man was subsequently ordered to have a 30-day psychiatric assessment at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre in Calgary. The assessment falls under Section 672 of the Criminal Code, which authorizes the court to order an assessment of the mental condition of an accused person, if the judge believes it is necessary to determine whether the accused is unfit to stand trial.

Red Young Man was ultimately found fit to stand trial.

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Southern Albertan

Yet another indication of where these folks are appropriately placed….with less residents on a locked, secure unit with a more skilled staffing mix who have the ability to head off these aggressive behaviors, and, with the staffing skills to defend themselves and other residents with out harming anyone. The defensive physical skills and training required for staff working on acute psychiatric units comes to mind. This would also definitely require a smaller resident to staff ratio, at higher cost, of course. Long-term care forensic psychiatric care facilities may still be greatly lacking.
Even if the charges against a such a patient/resident do not ‘hold up’ in court, it still gets the attention of those who make the decisions on this type of patient. Charges still, should always be laid in these situations, sadly. Questions could be: what is the responsibility and liability involved in these situations of where folks with risky aggressive behaviors are placed and who becomes responsible and liable if something catastrophic like this happens? At what point are fragile long term care co-residents no longer protected?

Last edited 1 month ago by Southern Albertan

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