Prosecutors want murder charge dropped in suicide pact of elderly Fargo couple


FARGO — Prosecutors are looking to drop a murder charge that an elderly man has been facing since the shooting death of his wife in June.

Louis Donald Averson and his wife, Ila Mae Lou Averson, both 85 at the time, were both in poor health when they entered into a suicide pact in early June, according to Cass County District Court documents.

On June 1, the couple left a will on the dining room table of their Fargo apartment before trying and failing to poison themselves using carbon monoxide from a vehicle idling in their garage, court documents stated.

Early the next day, Louis Averson allegedly shot his wife with a revolver, killing her. He then shot himself but survived, court documents stated.

He was charged with murder, a Class AA felony. The maximum penalty for the charge is life in prison.

However, Averson's attorney, Monty Mertz, and prosecutors have signed a stipulation filed with the court that asks a judge to dismiss the charge against Averson.

According to the stipulation for dismissal:

When Averson was being treated at a local hospital following the shootings, it was determined he lacked the capacity to make decisions about his medical care and he was civilly committed to the North Dakota State Hospital for treatment.

It was also determined that Averson lacks the capacity to understand the legal proceedings against him and he is unlikely to ever regain such capacity.

Averson suffers from a major neurocognitive disorder that likely will "progress through severe dementia until his death," according to the stipulation.