UPDATE: Suspect enters not guilty plea (after the break) . . .
Recovering from hip surgery, William McDougall apparently could not take Manh Ban Nguyen's singing in Vietnamese any longer. So, late Friday night, he allegedly took a metal bar from the closet used for hanging clothes and repeatedly bonked his roommate's head with it. What makes this reported murder most unusual was the location (a Laguna Woods nursing home), the suspect's age (81) and that of the victim (94).
It went down at Palm Terrace Healthcare Center, a 99-bed residential facility at 24962 Calle Aragon, Laguna Woods. Nguyen, who sustained blows to his head, was pronounced dead at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center some time after deputies got the 11:20 p.m. call.
UPDATE: McDougall pleaded not guilty during an in-custody arraignment Thursday. He remains in custody at Orange County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail, and he is due back in court Oct. 22 for a bail review and pretrial hearings.
Meanwhile, the Orange County Register reports McDougall and Nguyen “didn't appear to have a history of tension, with staffers at the health care center telling authorities that there hadn't been any previous incidents between them.”
Here is the Orange County District Attorney's Office statement on the charges against McDougall:
October 4, 2010
81-YEAR-OLD CHARGED WITH MURDERING 94-YEAR-OLD ROOMMATE IN REHAB CENTER BY REPEATEDLY HITTING HIM IN HEAD WITH METAL ROD
SANTA ANA – An 81-year-old man has been charged with murdering his 94-year-old roommate while the two were living in a rehabilitation center recovering from hip surgeries. William Leo McDougall, 81, Laguna Woods, is charged with one felony count of murder and faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison if convicted. He is being held on $1 million bail and is expected to be arraigned tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.
On Oct. 1, 2010, McDougall was recovering from a hip surgery at Palm Terrace Healthcare Center in Laguna Woods. The defendant is accused of becoming angry with his 94-year-old roommate, Manh Van Nguyen, who was singing in their room in Vietnamese while also recovering from a hip surgery.
McDougall is accused of taking a metal rod from the closet in their room and hitting Nguyen multiple times in the head. A nurse, who had been approaching the room, witnessed the incident. The defendant was restrained by staff.
The victim was taken to the hospital, where he died due to blunt force trauma to the head.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.