Woman dies after being blinded in hospital attack

By: 
Clair McFarland with the Riverton Ranger, from the Wyoming News Exchange

Woman dies after being blinded in hospital attack

 

By Clair McFarland

Riverton Ranger

Via Wyoming News Exchange

 

RIVERTON — The elderly victim in a Thanksgiving Day attack at Lander’s hospital has died. 

Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun now is reviewing “more serious charging” against Patrick Lee Rose, 53, who was arrested after the attack. 

Rose had been charged Nov. 30 with aggravated assault, which is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. 

The victim, now identified officially as Elaine Tillman, was transported out of state for care after the incident. 

Authorities confirmed that she died Wednesday. 

Witnesses said Rose, also a hospital patient, left his room at SageWest Health Care in Lander and attacked Tillman, who was in the room next to his. 

The witnesses said Rose gouged out one of Tillman’s eyes. Court documents state he destroyed her remaining eye as well, leaving her blind. It is believed that no implement was used in the attack.

Arriving Lander Police Department officers “rounded the corner by the nurses station and saw two male nurses restraining (Rose),” court documents state. 

The officers handcuffed Rose, who was dressed in hospital scrubs and had blood on his hands and clothing. 

Authorities noted in court that Rose and Tillman were complete strangers to one another. 

In the trauma room, officers found Tillman with gauze on her right eye, with a nurse keeping pressure on it, and her left eye was “misshapen and swollen to the point of bulging out of its socket.”

When he appeared at his initial hearing in Lander Circuit Court on Dec. 2, Rose told the judge he has been grappling with an “acquired brain injury” for 18 years. 

“What seems to have led to this,” added Fremont County Attorney deputy Dan Stebner, “is he quit taking some prescribed medication and had a very bizarre and extreme reaction to that – as is obvious from the alleged offense and the facts of it.” 

Rose is being detained on a $250,000 cash-only bond. 

“People who take psychotropic medications and suffer from mental illness,” added Lander Circuit Court Judge Robert Denhardt, “have a tendency to believe they don’t need to take the medication and then quit taking them, and then things go wrong from them.” 

If the victim’s death is linked to the incident by medical reports, LeBrun’s office “will make a final charging determination,” he noted in a Friday statement. 

Higher violent-crime charges than aggravated assault include manslaughter, second-degree, and first-degree murder – as well as homicide with various mitigators, such as negligence. 

First-degree murder charges may be applied only if evidence suggests that the suspect killed another person “purposely and with premeditated malice,” according to Wyoming law. 

Penalties include death and life imprisonment. 

Second-degree murder is an applicable charge if the evidence suggests that murder was committed “purposely and maliciously, but without premeditation.” 

The penalty ranges from 20 years to life in prison.

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