SANTA ANA ( — An 83-year-old man was sentenced to probation for the rest of his life for murdering his 94-year-old roommate at a Laguna Woods short-term care facility.

William Leo McDougall pleaded guilty on Aug. 17 to second degree murder in the Oct. 1, 2010, death of Manh Van Nguyen.

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Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals suspended McDougall’s prison term, even though he was technically sentenced to 16 years to life in prison.

Prosecutors alleged that McDougall fatally clubbed Nguyen because he was angry that the victim was singing in Vietnamese in their room at the Palm Terrace Health Care Center, where they both were recovering from hip surgery.

Authorities alleged McDougall grabbed a metal rod from their closet and hit Nguyen over the head.

Defense attorney Rudolph Loewenstein said his client could have been influenced by the medicine he was given after the surgery.

“Mr. McDougall, having undergone a medical procedure, was certainly not his normal self,” Loewenstein said in August. “Further investigation revealed it was a tragic scenario that unfolded that was completely out of character for the man.”

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McDougall, who lived a “crime-free life,” according to Loewenstein, is confined to a wheelchair and needs constant care.

If he violates probation, McDougall could be sent to prison.


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