This is not exactly a Golden Girls moment.
A 98 year old woman facing a grand jury in Massachusetts was indicted yesterday in the case of her room-mate, a 100 year old woman who was found strangled to death with a plastic bag placed over her head.
Laura Lundquist and Elizabeth Barrow roomed together at the Brandon Woods nursing home in Dartmouth, Mass. They had had some arguments before, concerning space and placement of furniture in their shared room.
The center of the argument at the time of Barrow's death concerned a small table that Lindquist had placed at the bottom of Barrow's bed. Barrow asked for the table to be removed and it was, by a health aide. Linquist punched the aide for moving the table and remarked that she would outlive her room-mate. Barrow had repeatedly stated that Lindquist made her life terrible. However, according to the nursing home, Barrow had declined two offers to change rooms. Her son told reporters that the reason Barrow wanted to remain in the room was that it was the very room she lived in with her husband for several years, before his death in 2007. Linquist had moved in with her after his death.
It is common practice that the person complaining about a nursing home room-mate is the one to switch rooms. Lindquist had made no such complaints but Barrow's son said he made repeated complaints to the nursing home administration regarding recurring "harassment" from Lindquist toward Barrow.
Lindquist's attorney has argued against an indictment, saying his client suffers from dementia.
Nursing homes offer semi-private rooms, for the most part, since private rooms are very costly. While most room-mates get on quite well (and admissions staff make an effort to match them up, taking into account their cultural, religious, and occupational backgrounds as well as their ages) there can be times when it's simply not a good match. The complainant is normally the one to change rooms or they work out their differences and remain together. In this case, something went terribly wrong.
What do you make of this case? Do you think dementia is grounds for an acquittal if the defendant proved over and over to having harassed her room-mate? If found guilty, what do you think her sentence should be, given her advanced age? Have you or a loved one had problems with nursing home room-mate assignments?
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