The two men shared a room at a Laguna Woods healthcare centre when the younger man beat Manh Van Nguyen to death in October 2010.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office issued a release saying William Leo Mcdougall pleaded guilty yesterday to second-degree murder in a Santa Ana courtroom. The charge carries a sentencing enhancement because a deadly weapon was used.
On Oct. 1, 2010, both men were roommates at the Palm Terrace Healthcare Center. Both seniors were recovering from hip surgery. According to prosecutors, Mcdougall became angry with Nguyen; not only was he singing but he was singing in Vietnamese.
Mcdougall took a metal rod from the closet in their room and struck Nguyen repeatedly over the head. A nurse witnessed the attack and hospital employees managed to stop the beating. Nguyen was rushed to hospital where he died from blunt force trauma to the head.
The Orange County Register reports a plea arrangement was made between Mcdougall's lawyer and the District Attorney's Office. Mcdougall will be sentenced to 16 years to life in state prison but that sentence will be suspended and the 83-year-old will be placed on probation for the rest of his life.
Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh said, "This case has been a struggle since day one. It was important for us that he be held accountable for murder and that took place today."
CBS Los Angeles reports that Rudolph Loewenstein, Mcdougall's attorney, says his client has led a "crime-free life" and the act was totally out of character. Loewenstein believes the medication Mcdougall was taking after his surgery may have had something to do with his behaviour. The lawyer added he wasn't sure why his client beat Nguyen, saying, "I think the evidence is unclear whether the other man was singing or not."
Mcdougall has shown remorse and has apologized to Nguyen's family in writing. Loewenstein said, "My client and his family have made it clear through the District Attorney's Office that there is a good deal of remorse from everyone."
Members of both families cried as Mcdougall pleaded guilty to the charge.
Formal sentencing is set for Oct. 26.