Lawyer Drops Bid to Free Murder Suspect, 91

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A 91-year-old Fillmore man accused of murder will remain in jail awaiting trial as his health continues to improve after his lawyer dropped her campaign to free him Wednesday.

Attorney Susan Olson said that an around-the-clock nurse's aide has helped Alfred Pohlmeier regain his health.

Pohlmeier is accused of strangling his wife of 63 years because her constant coughing prevented him from sleeping through the night.

Olson had been lobbying hard for her client's release from jail since his arrest in September, arguing that his incarceration is killing him. Authorities had to rush Pohlmeier to the hospital for emergency brain surgery after he fell in his cell last month.

After a six-day stay at the Ventura County Medical Center, Pohlmeier was returned to his cell, and jail officials hired the nurse's aide.

The $7,000-a-month care has helped enough that Pohlmeier can now get out of bed and move around in a wheelchair, Olson said. But his health is still bad enough that he needs a nurse's constant care, which his family cannot afford, Olson said in explaining why she will no longer argue for his release from jail without bail.

"Since he is getting around-the-clock care, this seems like the most practical solution right now," Olson said.

Pohlmeier's son, Joseph Pohlmeier of Simi Valley, did not return telephone calls for comment.

Prosecutor Donald C. Glynn, in urging Superior Court Judge Charles W. Campbell Jr. to keep the county's oldest-ever murder defendant jailed in lieu of $250,000 bail, has said that Pohlmeier should be treated like every murder defendant.

Until Pohlmeier's fall in his cell, Campbell had sided with Glynn. But after Pohlmeier was rushed to the hospital, Campbell implored attorneys to find a suitable place to house Pohlmeier.

However, his family declined to take custody of Pohlmeier because they said they could not afford his medical care, and the county's Mental Health and Public Guardian departments said the retired postal worker did not qualify for their programs because he did not suffer from mental illness.

Glynn opposed his release to a private care facility because he felt convalescent home residents would object to having a murder suspect as a neighbor.

Furthermore, Olson said Pohlmeier's MediCal coverage would not pay for such a stay.

"Everywhere I turned, I ran into a Catch-22," she said. "This is best for now."

Pohlmeier's trial is scheduled to start Feb. 5. If convicted of first-degree murder, he faces a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.

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