OSPREY, Fla. (WWSB) - A 76-year-old Sarasota County man has been arrested and charged with the murder of his 74-year-old wife. John Richardson has been charged with second-degree murder.
This is the second case in the last two months involving an elderly man killing his wife at their home, and we’re now learning that the other connection is that they both may involve dementia.
“Dementia doesn’t just mean memory loss. It means the loss of the ability to reason. It robs the essence of the person and leaves sort of the shell,” Michael Juceam, the owner of Right At Home, explains to ABC7.
That’s what many believe happened on June 20th at Richardson’s home on Rousseau Drive in Nokomis. John Richardson was arrested months after his wife of 40 years was found dead in her bedroom. The sheriff’s office says when they arrived, they spoke to the victim’s husband, 76-year-old John Richardson, and say he told them, “I may have had something to do with her demise,” but didn’t offer deputies an explanation.
John Richardson was interviewed and deputies say he had trouble recalling an altercation with his wife the night before, but add he made several admissions, including say, “I’m not saying I didn’t do it, and I’m not saying I did do it,” and “My fears are I had something to do with her injuries,” and “I’m interested in what forensics is going to say.”
Deputies say John Richardson had cuts and bruises on his arms. A bloody pillowcase and his broken wristwatch were found near the victim’s body, according to the sheriff’s office, which says John Richardson’s DNA was found under the Judith Richardson’s fingernails. That was enough evidence needed to allow police to arrest her husband on Tuesday.
During these last five months, though, his lawyers say the family realized he was indeed not himself anymore.
“He’s been continuing to reside at the home with his son, John Jr. Richardson. He moved down here and has been taking care of him, and he relayed it to me that he believes his father is suffering from Alzheimers. He is not driving, according to his son, and he has no ability to drive or even essentially take care of himself," Attorney Brett McIntosh said.
Even if Richardson gets officially diagnosed, the charges will remain.
“Even if evidence is presented that somebody has diminished capacity or dementia, that’s just not a defense in Florida, and to be declared insane at the time of the event, is just a very high bar," explained Attorney Derek Byrd.
A judge can give a defendant a lesser sentencing because of their situation, but there’s no state law that requires them to do so.
“As time keeps going on, people are living longer and bodies are starting to outlive brains, so I think we’re going to see more and more people suffering from all these diseases and aging brains… and who, unfortunately, are doing things that they wouldn’t do when they were fully and mentally healthy," said Byrd.
John Richardson has been charged with second degree murder and is being held on $500,000 bond.