Baltimore County police rule nursing home death a homicide

Woman had heart attack after she was pushed

January 24, 2004|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

The death of an 89-year-old woman who suffered a heart attack after being pushed by another woman at a White Marsh nursing home has been ruled a homicide, Baltimore County police said yesterday.

However, it will be up to the county state's attorney's office to decide whether criminal charges will be filed.

Marjorie McWilliams, a resident of Brightview Assisted Living of White Marsh, died Dec. 10 about an hour after an altercation in the cafeteria with an 81-year-old woman, police spokesman Bill Toohey said.

A medical examiner concluded Wednesday that McWilliams' fatal heart attack was the result of a hardening of the arteries, but that the heart attack was brought on by the assault, Toohey said. McWilliams died at Franklin Square Hospital Center.

FOR THE RECORD - A headline in yesterday's editions of The Sun incorrectly identified the agency that ruled that a death at a White Marsh nursing home was a homicide. The state's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner issued the ruling.
The Sun regrets the error.

McWilliams was standing in a cafeteria line at the nursing home in the 8100 block of Rossville Blvd. when she was pushed by another resident, hit a wall and fell, Toohey said.

It's not known whether the women had been arguing, Toohey said.

Both women had dementia, he said.

Baltimore County police said they have forwarded the medical examiner's findings and the results of their investigation to county prosecutors.

Deputy State's Attorney Stephen Bailey said yesterday that prosecutors are aware of the case, but he did not know whether a formal review had begun.

Cindy Seipp, executive director of the 96-resident facility, said she was informed of the medical examiner's findings yesterday. However, she declined to answer questions about the death.

Reading from a prepared statement, Seipp said: "The safety and well-being of our residents is always our highest priority.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with both families."

Seipp said she believed that police had recommended against filing criminal charges in the case.

However, Toohey said the department had made no such recommendation.

The homicide is not the first of its kind. Two years ago, an 83-year-old Virginia woman died of a cerebral hemorrhage after she was struck by another resident at an assisted-living facility in Warrenton, Va., according to published reports.

In that case, a 53-year-old man who had Huntington's disease, a degenerative brain disorder, was charged with the woman's murder but was found incompetent to stand trial.

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