Man found competent to stand trial over girlfriend’s death

December 17, 2019 GMT

RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont man charged in connection with the death of his longtime girlfriend has been found competent to stand trial.

Prosecutors and the attorney for 60-year-old Randal Johnson agreed in court Monday that a report had found Johnson competent, Rutland Herald reported.

Johnson’s attorney, Daniel Maguire, asked that a trial be scheduled no sooner than April.

Johnson pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in September 2017 for the death of 58-year-old Trina Fitzgerald at the couple’s Rutland home that August.

A final autopsy report cited neck compression as the cause of death for Fitzgerald.

Police responded to the couple’s home in August 2017 and Fitzgerald told them Johnson had covered her nose and mouth for two minutes, authorities said. Fitzgerald was red in the face, coughing and crying, but she denied medical attention and police left. Less than five minutes later, Fitzgerald called 911 to say she was having difficulty breathing. An ambulance arrived and Fitzgerald was pronounced dead a short time later, officials said.

Johnson said he didn’t touch Fitzgerald, but believed she needed an ambulance because she may have been having a panic attack, according to police.