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Charged with murder, Rodney Nichols appears in Ottawa

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A 2016 photo of Rodney Nichols published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel. (Archive photo)

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The man accused of murdering his partner, the “Lady of the River Nation”, in 1975, Rodney Nichols, appeared by videoconference in court in Ottawa on Saturday morning.

The former Montreal resident, now 81 years old and suffering from dementia according to his lawyers, arrived in a wheelchair in front of the camera during his appearance, where he held his head in hands repeatedly.

After briefly speaking with her lawyer, Me Laura Metcalfe, the latter requested that her client's case be adjourned until December 7, at 1 p.m., in L'Orignal, Eastern Ontario .

It was ruled that Mr Nichols was required to follow a restraining order with 16 people. He is prohibited from having contact with them from the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Center where he remains detained.

Mr Metcalfe reminded the court that Mr Nichols suffers from serious memory problems and may not remember these conditions. She nevertheless stressed that he does not have access to the contact details of the people covered by the non-communication order.

LoadingA counter-offer is filed; the FAE ready to negotiate this weekend

ELSE ON INFO: A counter-offer is submitted; the FAE ready to negotiate this weekend

The latter also wishes to request the release of her client with bail.

Approached by Radio-Canada, she indicated that she preferred not to comment on the folder.

Criminal law lawyer Jean-René Dominique Kwilu recalls that in cases similar to that of Mr. Nichols, it is possible to request that the accused undergo a aptitude analysis in order to see if the person is fit to stand trial.

Mr. Kwilu acknowledges that the procedure may seem shocking, but advises that if the person is not fit to stand trial, the charges can be stayed. If the person is unfit, he will not go to prison and there will be no trial.

On the other hand, this lawyer emphasizes that cases of dementia and the use of a wheelchair do not necessarily mean that the accused cannot understand the seriousness of the charges.

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Criminal law lawyer Jean-René Dominique Kwilu. (File photo)

Just because you have dementia doesn't mean you can't go to trial, he said. he.

If he is found capable of taking part in the trial, the trial will continue, says the lawyer. Afterwards, it becomes a simple defense strategy for his lawyer whether he is going to testify or not.

Mr. Kwilu adds that it may be relevant to determine the state of the accused. The facts still date back to the 70s so we don't know to what extent there was memory loss.

In the perspective where the The accused would be found guilty, given his condition, he could be transported to appropriate centers for this type of condition rather than a prison detention center.

In certain cases, the person can be transported to hospital permanently, it is a form of sentence, says Mr. Kwilu.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">For the families of the victims, it is not as if the person is going to get away with it, reassures the lawyer who reminds that the sentence must still be proportionate to the circumstances of the person.

Rodney Nichols had lived in a retirement home in Florida for several decades. Officers from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) went there on Friday to bring him back to Canadian soil.

This octogenarian is the main suspect in the alleged murder of his partner, Jewell Parchman Langford, 48 years ago, who was long nicknamed the “Lady of the River Nation.”

His murder is one of the oldest unsolved major crimes in Canada.

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Jewell Parchman Langford, center, appears in a clipping among other members of the American Business Women's Association. Parchman Langford's body was found in the Nation River in Casselman in 1975, but was not identified until decades later. (File photo)

The identity of the victim was established in 2020 using genetic genealogy. This woman had left the United States in the mid-1970s to live in Montreal with Rodney Nichols. He was a star rugby player on the Westmount team at the time.

If Rodney Nichols is found guilty, the sentence The maximum he could face would be life in prison with the possibility of parole after a period of 10 to 20 years in prison.

< em>With information from Camille Kasisi-Monet

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