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Murder charge in 2017 Vernon homicide still viable, inquiry finds

Richard William Fairgrieve’s murder charge could be prosecuted if he is eventually deemed fit for trial
An inquiry has found that Richard William Fairgrieve’s murder charge in relation to the death of William Bartz in 2017 is still viable, despite Fairgrieve having been found unfit for trial in January 2020. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

An inquiry into a 2017 Vernon homicide case has found that a murder charge is still viable against one of two co-accused, despite the accused having previously been deemed unfit for trial.

William Bartz was found murdered in an apartment at the Sundance Suites on June 19, 2017. Richard William Fairgrieve and Jacqueline Leavins were arrested in October 2018 and each charged with murder in relation to his death.

Leavins was given a 10-year sentence for a lesser charge of manslaughter for her role in the killing in March 2021, while Fairgrieve was deemed unfit to stand trial in January 2020.

Fairgrieve appeared in Vernon court Monday for an inquiry into the status of his case under Section 672.33 of the Criminal Code, which states that an inquiry is to be held no later than two years after an accused is ruled to be unfit for trial, and every two years thereafter until the accused is acqutted or tried.

So far there has been no change to Fairgrieve’s status and he remains not fit to stand trial, said Dan McLaughlin, communications counsel for the BC Prosecution Service. However, he could be found fit for trial at a later point in time.

After hearing from the Crown on Monday, the court concluded that the standard had been met and Fairgrieve’s case remains triable, McLaughlin said.

Bartz was 50 years old at the time of his death.

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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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