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Dementia Patient Held For Trial

WEATHERLY – ‘Chaos’ and ‘tragic’ are just some of the words a district magistrate heard Wednesday in Carbon County.

The case involves a man with dementia was being charged with being responsible for another patient’ death while both were in a nursing home.

Carl Smith has dementia. He’s accused of killing Margeret Lechleiter, 85, another dementia patient. They were both residents of the Weatherwood Nursing Home in Weatherly.

When Smith was arrested he told Newswatch 16 he made a mistake.  This time he apologized.

“Carl, do you have anything to say to the family?”

“I am very sorry.”

One nurse testified about what happened the night of the incident, saying there was a fire in the facility, residents were evacuated and then brought back in. That’s when Carl Smith and Margaret Lechleiter got into an argument, then using one hand, pushed the victim.  She fell backwards, hit her head and later died in a hospital.

The victim’s family declined to comment, along with the prosecutor in the case. But Smith’s defense attorney had plenty to say.

“I was hoping we could get this stopped at this level,” Steve Vlossak said.

Attorney Vlossak said that because smith has dementia, he didn’t realize what he was doing. Vlossak explained that dementia will be one of the cornerstones of Smith’s defense.

“We have to remember why he was there. He was a patient, and as they testified, he was in the dementia unit, so he’s confused at everything that’s going on for sure.”

The magisterial district judge decided that police had enough cause to arrest Smith.

He is in prison while his lawyer tries to convince a higher court to dismiss the charges because of Smith’s dementia.


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