Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Suffering from dementia, will the man accused of a murder committed in 1975 go to trial?

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A photo of Rodney Nichols, now 81, published in 2016 in the South Florida Sun Sentinel. (Archive photo)


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Is Rodney Nichols fit to stand trial for murder?

That's the question his lawyer wants to answer, who questions the mental abilities of the 81-year-old man who is accused of killing his partner in Montreal more than 48 years ago, in 1975.

During an appearance Thursday in the Ontario Court of Justice, lawyer Laura Metcalfe said a nurse at the Ottawa Detention Center, as well as a lawyer in the United States, recently raised questions about the mental abilities of the accused. Following her own interactions with the accused, she says she shares their concerns.

Laura Metcalfe therefore requests an evaluation lasting five days of Rodney Nichols' fitness to stand trial.

The request could be authorized by the Ontario Court of Justice at a reappearance this Friday, and the assessment would take place at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Center where Rodney Nichols is currently being held.

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Rodney Nichols is at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre. (File photo)

This summer, Rodney Nichols' lawyer said he was far from sure his client understood the extradition proceedings against him. At the time, Rodney Nichols was living in Florida and Canadian authorities had initiated procedures to repatriate him to the country so that he could stand trial for murder.

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Mr. Nichols suffers from dementia and there are serious doubts as to whether he is truly aware of what is happening on a day-to-day basis.

A quote from Rodney Nichols' lawyers in a court filing in Florida This Summer

Despite concerns from his lawyers, the extradition request was approved and Rodney Nichols returned to Canada earlier this month .

An expert in criminal law, Montreal lawyer Andrew Barbicki, explains that the issues to be determined during this assessment will include the accused's ability to understand and participate in legal proceedings, and to give instructions to his lawyer.

If Rodney Nichols is found unfit to stand trial, it will be up to the Ontario Review Board to determine whether he is released following the stay of proceedings, or kept in custody for treatment.

It is too early to know whether the latter could return to Florida, where he lived before being extradited.

It's a unique case […] As for how the court will decide, it's difficult to be expected.

A quote from Andrew Barbicki, criminal lawyer

At the time of the alleged events, Rodney Nichols was a star player on the Westmount rugby team. He had just moved into a house in Montreal with Jewell Parchman Langford, a woman from Tennessee whom he had met in Florida.

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The photo of Jewell Langford and his clay bust created in 2017 by the Ontario Provincial Police in an attempt to identify him . (Archive image)

A few days later, the 48-year-old woman stopped giving news to her family in the United States.< /p>

His body was then found in the Nation River, along Highway 417 between Montreal and Ottawa. For over 40 years, mystery surrounded the discovery of this body, as no one could identify the victim.

The case moved forward quickly beginning in 2020 when the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) identified the woman through advances in DNA and the use of genetic genealogy.

This discovery led the OPP, which was leading the investigation, to work with the Montreal police on the case, given that Jewell Parchman Langford's family was there reported his disappearance in 1975. At the time, police did not make the connection between the disappearance reported in Montreal and the discovery of the body in Ontario, about 150 kilometers to the west.

Investigators believe that Rodney Nichols knowingly lied to Montreal police officers during an interview on June 7, 1975, in order to cover up his role in the disappearance of his partner.

At that time, he said he had just spoken to her and that she was in Vancouver. In fact, the latter's body had been found about a month earlier.

By admin

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