Man accused of trying to cause death of terminally ill father in nursing home

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BRECKSVILLE, Ohio -- Brecksville police have charged a man with attempted murder, for allegedly trying to cause the death of his terminally ill father at a nursing home.

The FOX 8 I-Team reported that Steven Curtis, 58, pleaded not guilty in Garfield Heights Municipal Court, to a count of attempted murder, and additional charges of assault, menacing and disorderly conduct.

Curtis’ father, Roy Curtis, 86, died hours after his son was arrested. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine if the actions of Steven Curtis played any role in his father’s death, or if his death was due strictly to the effects of cancer.

Police said they were summoned to the Oaks of Brecksville nursing home early Monday by staff members, who reported that Steven Curtis was intoxicated and was seen placing his hands over the mouth and nose of his father, in an apparent attempt to end his life.

The I-Team spoke with Oaks of Brecksville employee, Bryan Minard, who said his co-workers did what they were trained and obligated to do. "I'm glad they stepped in and actually you know take control of that, because that's a crazy situation for you to try to end someone's life early," said Minard.

According to a statement from Brecksville police, when staff members attempted to intervene, Steven Curtis allegedly threw a telephone at them, and then assaulted one of the staff members. The statement indicates that he then tried to barricade himself inside his father's room.

During Curtis' arraignment, his lawyers entered a plea of not guilty, and indicated that the story is a lot more complicated than the police statement indicates.

Attorneys Pat D'Angelo and Thomas Shaughnessy said Steven Curtis had been at his father's bedside, realizing that his life was coming to an end. D'Angelo told the judge, "The accused was very attentive, was there taking care of him. His father had terminal cancer." The attorneys maintain Curtis’ only interest was minimizing his father's suffering. "It's my understanding that they had ceased all food and water. He was simply on morphine for the last 72 hours, and this gentleman had actually stayed at the nursing home for all three days. He had actually slept there and was with his father," said Shaughnessy.

The Oaks of Brecksville issued a statement that reads, “We were made aware of an incident involving a son's unfortunate reaction to his father`s end stage of life. We took all necessary precautions and notified the appropriate authorities. In speaking with the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner, we were informed that the decedent experienced no signs of trauma leading to his passing."

The Steven Curtis investigation is now being turned over to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, and a grand jury may eventually have to decide if Curtis was acting as a compassionate son, or illegally assumed the authority of a higher power. "I just don't feel like you should be able to do that anyway because, God, when it's time, it's time you know," said Bryan Minard. “But you can't end someone's life sooner than possible you know."

Curtis was released after posting a $50,000 bond.

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