RAMONA MAXINE LUND, Photo by USA TODAY
An 86-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of murder after her 89-year-old husband was found beaten to death by a walking cane inside their home.
Ramona Maxine Lund, who lives at 5438 Jenny Circle in Pace, was arrested after investigators with the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office determined she beat her husband, Francis Joseph Lund, to death in their home with a walking cane Saturday.
On Saturday morning, a neighbor of the Lunds called 911 after he saw Ramona Lund standing over her husband’s bloodied body on the front porch. The neighbor later told authorities he thought Francis Lund had fallen down and his wife was trying to help him up, according to Ramona Lund’s arrest report.
The neighbor urged Ramona Lund to call 911, but she allegedly told him she couldn’t find her phone. The neighbor then ran to his house, got his phone, came back and called 911, according to the report. He then performed life saving efforts while he waited for first responders to arrive.
Inside the home, authorities found parts of a walking cane covered in blood on the sofa and in a bucket by the front door. They also found a bloody nightgown on the arm of a sofa, and Ramona Lund allegedly had blood on her hands and feet.
Francis Lund’s fatal injuries were consistent with having been beaten by a cane, the report said. An investigator observed several bruises and indentations in and about the man’s head. An autopsy is scheduled to be performed Monday.
Ramona Lund was charged with homicide and is being held on a $250,000 bond in the Santa Rosa County Jail. She was scheduled to make her first appearance Monday afternoon, but her public defender indicated he had trouble reading Lund’s rights to her and requested she be evaluated for mental competency within 48 hours. State Attorney Bill Eddins agreed.
At a press conference Monday announcing her arrest, Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson said the case is “unusual” in that Lund is the oldest person in the county that the Sheriff’s Office has ever charged with murder.
“We’re dealing probably with someone’s grandmother now,” Johnson said. “It’s not something that happens every day.”
He also said that it was clear to his deputies that there was another unusual aspect about the case.
“Based on observations of my investigators, as well as other personnel, when you interact with her on a personal level, when you ask her questions, it’s clear that she’s confused,” Johnson said. “It’s important that, while we are going to focus on the mental confusion and that aspect, it’s important to remember and be reminded that she is charged with a very serious crime that has resulted in the loss of a human life.”
Eddins said at the press conference that his office had taken the unusual step of working with the Public Defender’s office to seek an expedited competency evaluation on Lund, saying it was clear to both the Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s office that she was “confused.”
He said it wasn’t yet clear if she suffered from a medical condition such as dementia, but that when speaking with her, she wasn’t aware of where she was or what time it was.
Johnson added that Lund is being treated in the jail’s infirmary.
“It is unusual (for the state to seek a competency evaluation),” Eddins said. “But it is my obligation to seek justice, and it became clear to me and my office that this woman had significant indications of confusion, and I felt it was important to my office to take an unusual approach.”
Public Defender Bruce Miller, whose office was assigned to represent Lund, said his staff is currently focused on gathering information, evaluating Lund’s competency for trial and investigating whether insanity at the time of the offense could be a factor in the case.
Miller said he could not speak specifically to Lund’s state of mind, but spoke generally about ways dementia might impact a criminal case.
Competency is generally defined as an individual’s ability to understand and participate in court proceedings. People initially deemed not competent for trial can often learn to understand legal processes, but Miller said that’s not necessarily the case for someone with a degenerative illness like dementia.
“If someone suffers from dementia, they are not going to become competent, they are going to stay that way,” Miller said.
He added that a person suffering from dementia could potentially meet the criteria for an insanity defense, but that in Lund’s case, it’s still too early to start making those types of assessments.
Contributing: Kevin Robinson, Pensacola News Journal
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