Man pleads not guilty in slayings of ailing wife, bedridden sister

A 60-year-old man charged with murder in the slayings of his ill wife and bedridden sister pleaded not guilty Monday.

Lance Holger Anderson is suspected of shooting his wife, Bertha Maxine Anderson, 68, in the head in their Canyon Country apartment on Dec. 11. She had dementia.

Later that day, he took a taxi to a North Hills nursing facility where, police said, he fatally shot his  sister, Lisa Florence Nave, 59. She had been there since suffering a heart attack five years ago.

Homicide Report: Tracking killings in L.A. County

Anderson surrendered outside the nursing home to police, who at the time described the slayings as possible "mercy killings."

"Mr. Anderson believed he was helping his family, and he sacrificed his freedom for theirs," his public defender, Rob Kayne, said Monday. "They were suffering, and he sent them home."

Anderson, who is being held in jail without bail, potentially faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Kayne said it's too early to speculate if a deal can be reached with prosecutors in the case.

He also said he's advised Anderson not to contact family members because they are still suffering from shock. Neighbors of the Andersons said last month that they were surprised by the slayings.


Anderson is due back in the San Fernando courthouse Feb. 27.