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Decision delayed on Vernon murder suspect’s ability to stand trial

Richard Fairgrieve’s ability to stand trial for a 2017 murder will be decided June 20
A decision on whether Richard Fairgrieve is fit to stand trial for a 2017 murder has been put over to June 20. (Morning Star - file photo)

A man charged with second-degree murder in Vernon will have to wait to find out if he is considered fit for trial.

Richard William Fairgrieve is charged in relation to the killing of Willy Bartz in a room at the Sundance Suites on July 19, 2017. Fairgrieve was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in October 2018, but was deemed unfit to stand trial due to medical reasons in 2020.

Fairgrieve had suffered a series of strokes while in custody, leaving him unable to understand speech or writing due to brain damage.

However, in November 2022, the B.C. Review Board concluded that Fairgrieve was in fact fit to stand trial, ordering his return to court to retry the issue of fitness.

Three days of hearings in B.C. Supreme Court at the Vernon Courthouse concluded Thursday, June 8. Justice Alison Beames heard arguments from Crown counsel Alison Buchanan and defence counsel Glenn Verdurmen on Fairgrieve’s ability to process court proceedings and ultimately stand trial.

On Wednesday Fairgrieve took the stand while Buchanan asked him a series of questions, speaking slowly so that he could unserstand and reply. She asked him, “Do you know what would happen if the judge finds you guilty?” to which he replied, “That’s bad.”

Asked where he would go if found guilty, Fairgrieve, after some time, was able to reply, “jail.”

On Thursday, Justice Beames decided not to make her decision right away. Instead, she will rule whether Fairgrieve is fit to stand trial on Tuesday, June 20.

Fairgrieve is one of two co-accused in the murder of Bartz. Jacqueline Nicole Leavins was also charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter. In March 2021 she was sentenced to 10 years in jail.

This story was updated Friday, June 9, to correct the date of Bartz’s death, for which we apologize for the error

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started at the Morning Star as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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