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Man Kills Roommate Over Singing

By Laura Strachan, Esq. on October 06, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

An elderly man kills roommate over singing. Yes, you read the headline right. 81 year-old William Leo McDougall will be arraigned at a Santa Ana, California, courthouse for the death of his roommate after he killed him for singing in their shared room at a Southern California healthcare center. No word on what song it was.

The LA Times Blog reports on the deadly tunes: "William McDougall was recovering from hip surgery at the Palm Terrace Healthcare Center when he allegedly became angry with Manh Van Nguyen, who had begun singing in Vietnamese." The 91 year-old Nguyen was also recovering hip surgery when the attack occurred. McDougall repeatedly hit Nguyen with a metal rod from their closet, and Nguyen ultimately died from blunt force trauma later that day.

The two men did not have any reported trouble before. Now, McDougall faces first degree murder charges for the death that was witnessed by a nurse. In no jurisdiction is singing an adequate provocation for murder and as such, McDougall will get twenty five years to life if convicted. He is currently being held in an Orange County jail on $1 million bail.

Roommate disputes happen all the time. Whether one is untidy, doesn't pay bills on time, or plays music at all hours of the night, fights should never end in a death. The elderly defendant in this bizarre beating broke the law in the most serious way possible, but this case begs the question: what's the point of locking up an 81 year-old defendant? Perhaps justice is better served putting William McDougall under some form of psychiatric treatment rather than behind bars. In the end, if a man kills his roommate over singing, a possible insanity defense is not out of the picture.

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