EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

June 21, 2014

At 102, woman still faces murder charge

BOSTON (AP) — Nearly five years after a woman was charged with killing her 100-year-old roommate in a Massachusetts nursing home, a second-degree murder charge is still pending against her at the age of 102.

Laura Lundquist, diagnosed with dementia, was deemed incompetent to stand trial after she was charged with strangling Elizabeth Barrow, who was found in her bed with a plastic bag tied around her head.

Since then, the oldest murder defendant in the state’s history has been held at a psychiatric hospital. Prosecutors say they don’t expect the case to ever go to trial, but just in case, the murder charge remains on the books.

Barrow’s son, Scott, says he has never pushed for Lundquist to be prosecuted.

“It would be like prosecuting a 2-year-old,” he said in an interview Thursday. “It’s just an awful thing that happened. How could she be held accountable for this when she’s not in her right mind?”

After Lundquist was indicted in 2009 at age 98, Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter said prosecutors pursued a second-degree murder charge because they didn’t believe Lundquist had the cognitive ability to form premeditation, which must be proven in a first-degree murder case.

Sutter’s spokesman, Gregg Miliote, said the case remains open.

“Ms. Lundquist was deemed incompetent to stand trial, and we are told that is unlikely to change,” Miliote said.

“However, the court is updated on her competency every three months ... and if her competency to stand trial should change, the matter would move forward in the courts.”

Scott Barrow is hoping a wrongful-death lawsuit he filed against the nursing home, its owners and operators will eventually be heard by a jury. In 2012, an arbitrator ruled in favor of the nursing home and found no negligence.

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