Alzheimer's patient accused of murder granted extension

LAKEWOOD - An elderly Alzheimer's patient accused of killing another man at an assisted living home is still waiting to hear if he will face murder charges.

Police say 87-year-old Homer Castor beat 76-year-old Gerald Propp. Propp later died. Both men lived at Atria Applewood, a senior living facility in Lakewood. Court records say both have Alzheimer's.

Castor was ordered by the court to undergo a competency evaluation.

On Monday, Jefferson County decided they will not file any charges until June 1 since he needs to be evaluated on May 21 at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.

9NEWS psychologist Max Wachtel says based on what he's read in court documents, Castor may be found incompetent to stand trial.

"In Colorado, you need to have a factual and rational understanding of the courtroom proceedings," Wachtel said. "Meaning, you need to know who the judge is, who the attorneys are, kind of how the courtroom works and then to be able to use that information to make good rational decisions about your legal case. You also have to be able to work with your attorney to assist in your defense. Anybody with dementia and the end stages of Alzheimer's, they're going to have a really tough time with those two concepts and this gentleman I don't think is an exception to that."

Propp's family released the following statement to 9NEWS:

Jerry was a very private person and would not want the attention that this sad event has garnered. It is Jerry's family's hope that through this tragic event changes can be made to make assisted living, long-term care and memory care facilities safe for all residents.

Jerry fought Alzheimer's disease valiantly, recognizing that he was failing, going to memory therapy and doing all he could to delay the onset.

His family is heartbroken to have lost him this way. We feel that we have already lost him once to Alzheimer's, now we have lost him to this horrific event.

Jerry was a wonderful man and a wonderful listener, a shirt-off-his back kind of a human being. Even when the disease already set in, he made you feel like he heard you and cared. You knew you mattered to him, even if he wasn't able to express it.

Jerry was loved and will be very dearly missed by family and friends.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment licenses facilities—like Atria Applewood. The agency tells 9NEWS it will be investigating what happened from a safety and standards point of view.

Private facilities like Atria are not mandated by state of federal regulations as much as places that accept Medicaid or Medicare, experts at the Department of Health told 9NEWS. However industry standards will be used to determine if things were done right.

CDPHE plans to start the investigation into what happened at Atria as soon as possible.

It could be up to 60 days before the decision is made public.

If any wrongdoing is found at the facility, CDPHE will recommend corrective action and give a facility 10 days to present a plan for the future.

CDPHE has the power to take the facility's license away if necessary, but that's not the goal.

At this point, no wrongdoing has been found on the part of Atria.

(KUSA-TV © 2015 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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