NY man gets 17 to life for strangling his mother

AP News
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Posted: Dec 01, 2014 1:26 PM
NY man gets 17 to life for strangling his mother

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — A New York man who spent years caring for his ailing 88-year-old mother before strangling her with a necktie while she slept — and later tried to kill himself — was sentenced Monday to 17 years to life in prison.

James Olsen, 60, was sentenced in a Long Island courtroom for the 2011 killing of his mother, Ruth, who suffered from several illnesses, including dementia.

"This tragedy isn't over Mr. Olsen, but I hope that you find some peace," Nassau County Court Judge Angelo Delligati said after imposing the sentence.

Olsen did not speak during the hearing and declined to comment to reporters while leaving the courtroom.

Prosecutors said Olsen methodically planned the crime in their comfortable Garden City home, even picking out the necktie the night before she was killed. A jury in May rejected an insanity defense and convicted Olsen of second-degree murder.

Defense attorney Paul Delle said he plans to appeal. The judge on Monday denied a defense motion to set aside the verdict.

Delle said his client had been hearing voices for several weeks before the killing telling him to commit suicide. He said his client had spent years caring for the elderly woman and thought he had to kill her first because he perceived there would be no one to care for her after he died.

Delle previously said his client "lacked the capacity to appreciate his conduct."

After killing his mother, Olsen attempted suicide before calling 911, authorities said. A recording of the call was played for jurors.

"I'm just crazy. I have to be crazy," Olsen told an operator.

Ruth Olsen was found in her bedroom, with the tie still around her neck, prosecutors said. James Olsen, who was unemployed at the time, was found in another bedroom with self-inflicted slash wounds to his neck and wrists.

Delle said because he has filed an appeal, he asked relatives of his client to not attend the sentencing.

After the guilty verdict was announced in May, Olsen's brother, Steve, said their mother would have been "horrified" by the jury's decision. "I believe my mother forgave him as it was happening," he said.