|For Immediate Release
Case # 10ZF0094
October 26, 2012
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
83-YEAR-OLD MAN SENTENCED FOR MURDERING 94-YEAR-OLD REHAB CENTER ROOMMATE BY REPEATEDLY HITTING HIM IN HEAD
SANTA ANA – An 83-year-old man was sentenced today to lifetime probation with a suspended sentence of 16 years in state prison for murdering his 94-year-old rehabilitation center roommate by repeatedly hitting him in the head with a wooden rod. William Leo McDougall, Laguna Woods, pleaded guilty Aug. 17, 2012, to one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. When making the sentencing recommendation, the People considered the nature of the crime, the impact to and wishes of the victim’s family, and the defendant’s lack of criminal record, advanced age, and medical condition.
On Oct. 1, 2010, McDougall was sharing a room at Palm Terrace Healthcare Center in Laguna Woods with 94-year-old Manh Van Nguyen as both recovered from hip surgeries.
That night while lying in bed, McDougall mistakenly believed that his wife was sleeping beside him and mistakenly believed that his quietly-sleeping roommate, Nguyen, was singing loudly. McDougall became angry and got out of bed to silence the victim, believing that Nguyen was disturbing the defendant’s wife, who in reality was not present.
McDougall took a wooden rod from the closet in their room and hit Nguyen multiple times in the head with the rod. A nurse, who had been approaching the room, reported the incident to staff members, who restrained McDougall.
The victim was taken to the hospital, where he died due to blunt force trauma to the head.
Nguyen’s wife of 58 years and four adult children, who viewed a video interview and confession from the defendant in 2010, submitted a family letter for the court and Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) consideration, which says in part, “We got to hear what actually happened to our father…and how he was killed (and most importantly, hearing directly from the person who did it and admitted it). We fully understand nothing can be done now that will bring our father back to us. This is a real tragedy in which all parties involved have suffered tremendous losses and will continue to suffer for years to come. It is indeed a lose-lose situation for all.”
McDougall’s wife submitted a letter for the victim’s family, which says in part, “Our entire family is devastated by what Bill did, which we cannot explain, and nothing could ever justify Bill’s conduct. I can only say that his actions must have been the product of illness…his surgery, old age, or a combination of factors unknown to me. I realize what an unbelievable nightmare this has caused the Nguyen family and the McDougall family…I offer my sincere condolences on behalf of the entire family and ask for forgiveness for Bill, even in spite of the terrible pain he has caused, only because the ‘real’ man I have known for over 58 years is not the one have done this horrible deed.”