Fitness assessment ordered for man accused in brutal 2017 Vernon murder

Fairgrieve fit to stand trial?

A man previously found unfit to stand trial in a brutal Vernon murder has been ordered to undergo an additional fitness assessment.

Richard Fairgrieve was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Willy Bartz at the Sunset Suites apartments in June 2017.

As of June, Fairgrieve was found unfit to stand trial after suffering a series of strokes while in custody awaiting trial.

However, the BC Review Board reversed an earlier decision last year, suggesting he may indeed be well enough to stand trial.

Fairgrieve has now been ordered to undergo the fitness assessment, and a pretrial conference has been set for Jan. 23 to ensure the assessment has been completed.

A three day re-trial of the fitness issue has been set for the week of April 2, 2024, confirms Dan McLaughlin, communications counsel with the BC Prosecution Service.

In June, Justice Alison Beames found Fairgrieve's testimony child-like.

"In the context of a full trial, it is difficult to imagine how his deficits could be accommodated," she said in BC Supreme Court.

Fairgrieve has been held at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Port Coquitlam, where he is under the ward's jurisdiction until he is either found fit to stand trial or the court grants a stay based on a finding of permanent unfitness.

In August 2020, Jacqueline Nicole Leavins pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Bartz.

Leavins was originally charged with second-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge, and was sentenced to 10 years in jail.

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