The police dog unit searches the perimeter of the Sundance Suites, where a body was located July 19, 2017. (Morning Star file photo)

The police dog unit searches the perimeter of the Sundance Suites, where a body was located July 19, 2017. (Morning Star file photo)

Accused in 2017 Vernon murder deemed fit for trial

Richard William Fairgrieve was previously found unfit for trial in 2020

The accused in a 2017 Vernon murder case has been deemed fit to stand trial.

William Bartz was dead inside a room at the Sundance Suites on June 19, 2017. Richard William Fairgrieve and Jacqueline Leavins were arrested in October 2018 and each charged with murder in relation to Bartz’s death.

Leavins was given a 10-year sentence for a lesser charge of manslaughter for her role in the killing in March 2021, while Fairgrieve was deemed unfit for trial due to medical reasons in January 2020.

After the court concluded that Fairgrieve was not fit to stand trial, the matter was referred to the B.C. Review Board. According to Dan McLaughlin, communications counsel with the BC Prosecution Service, the board recently concluded that “in its opinion, the accused is fit to stand for trial and has ordered his return to court to retry the issue of fitness.”

“The court has the ultimate responsibility for determining whether the accused is fit to stand trial and will now retry the issue and render a verdict,” McLaughlin said.

If the court finds that Fairgrieve is fit, he will be tried for the murder and the usual criminal process will continue.

A date will now be set for the fitness hearing in B.C. Supreme Court.

READ MORE: Murder charge in 2017 Vernon homicide still viable, inquiry finds

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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