Doctor comments on how Alzheimer's could affect murder suspect

By Brittany Pieper – email

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) –Family members of 70-year-old Loretta Luttrell claim she was not mentally capable of planning the murder of her husband, 73 year old Earnest, because she has moderate Alzheimer's. Luttrell attended her late husband's burial the day sheriff's deputies arrested her for her alleged involvement in his murder.

After they took her mother in for questioning Luttrell's daughter told KSLA News 12 she believes Tina VanMoerkeque is responsible. VanMoerkeque lived near the elderly couple, and police arrested her for her involvement in the murder on Wednesday.

"I want you to know the shape that my mother was in. There's no way. Tina manipulated her. She had been stealing money from her.,  said Luttrell's daughter.

She also said her mother wasn't capable, "My mother couldn't have done it. Her mind is gone."

However, according to the Caddo Parish Sheriff's Department, Luttrell confessed to her roll in the murder for hire plot.

Geriatrics physician Dr. David Henry thinks Luttrell would have a difficult time using her disease as a defense in court.

"A person who has executed and planned this complex activity that required hiring a hit man, making sure they were able to get in, execute the act, and get away would not have Alzheimer's to the degree that they would be impaired. They might have Alzheimer's, but they would not be impaired to the extent they couldn't function. They're pretty high functioning,  said Dr. Henry.

Dr. Henry says his comments are just speculation because he hasn't looked at Luttrell's specific case, but he said you usually don't start to see personality changes with Alzheimer's patients until they are in the very late stages, which means they are very, very impaired and not able to function independently at all.

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