Murder charge dropped in suicide pact of elderly Fargo couple

FARGO -- Cass County District Judge Frank Racek has dismissed a murder charge that an elderly Fargo man had been facing since the shooting death of his wife in June.

FARGO - Cass County District Judge Frank Racek has dismissed a murder charge that an elderly Fargo man had been facing since the shooting death of his wife in June.

The move came after prosecutors and defense attorneys filed a stipulation for dismissal, stating that Louis Donald Averson suffered from a major neurocognitive disorder and would likely never have the capacity to understand the legal proceedings against him.

Averson and his wife, Ila Mae Lou Averson, were both 85 and in poor health in June when they entered into a suicide pact, according to court documents.

On June 1, the couple left a will on the dining room table of their Fargo apartment before trying but 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.

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

However, according to the stipulation for dismissal filed with the court, when Averson was being treated at a local hospital after 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, the stipulation stated.