Tonawanda News

April 12, 2014

Another doctor to evaluate elderly murder suspect

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — BUFFALO — Chester Rusek, the 89-year-old man accused of killing his nursing home roommate, appeared in court on Friday to discuss another psychiatric evaluation that will be completed before his case goes to trial.

Although Rusek has been deemed competent, a doctor has diagnosed him with frontotemporal dementia, which is characterized by a shrinking of brain lobes and is associated with symptoms such as inappropriate actions, lack of judgment and empathy, compulsiveness and behavioral changes.

Defense attorney Barry Dolgoff has argued that the disease contributed to the defendant’s actions. In response, Assistant District Attorney Paul Bonanno has asked for another psychiatric evaluation, which will be scheduled in the coming weeks.

Rusek’s health records from the Kenwell De-Paul Senior Living Community, where the alleged crime occurred, have also been subpoenaed. 

“Having reviewed them, I find that all of his records ... would be relevant to the defendant’s psychiatric condition at the time the alleged crime took place,” Erie County Court Judge Michael Pietruska, who is presiding over the matter, said Friday.

Rusek, who has been charged with manslaughter, allegedly attacked Salvatore Trusello, 86, on the morning of Nov. 26, 2012 at the Town of Tonawanda nursing home.

The 89-year-old has brought into court in a wheelchair for each of his appearances, and has recently been transferred from the holding center to the Erie County Medical Center due to his medical state.

“They have asked us to get him in and out of the courtroom as soon as possible due to his medical condition,” Pietruska said.

Rusek has been detained since the attack, when he allegedly made a homemade weapon, fashioned from a 2 1/2 pound magnet from a speaker and an 18 inch piece of string.

After the assault, Rusek, with the assistance of a walker, shuffled down to the front desk and told an employee to call for medical help for Trusello, telling her, “I just beat his (expletive).”

Police reported to the scene shortly thereafter. Trusello, in a semi-conscious state, was able to identify Rusek as his attacker.

Meanwhile, Rusek remained in the foyer area of the center, located at 3456 Delaware Ave. According to police, he fully cooperated with authorities and even asked an officer where his patrol car was so he could get into it. Rusek told police that Trusello had gone through his records and he wanted to enact revenge.

The victim was sent to the hospital with serious injuries, including a broken rib, punctured lung and severely bruised face. Trusello died a month after the attack, and Rusek’s first-degree assault charge was upgraded to first-degree manslaughter charge.

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.