Gagne case: Victim's family says charges would be 'inhumane'

Yesterday we reported that the death of a 97-year-old man thrown to the floor by wrestling legend Verne Gagne was ruled a homicide.

But in news reports today, family members of the victim, Helmut Gutmann, said charges against Gagne would be "inhumane". Gagne suffers from Alzheimer's-related dementia and Gutmann also suffered from Alzheimer's. Both men were living in Friendship Village, a Bloomington facility housing people with those conditions.

More from the Star Tribune:

Gutmann's family believes that charges would be "inhumane," Gutmann's daughter, Ruth Hennig of Boston, said Wednesday.

In ruling Gutmann's death a homicide, the Hennepin County medical examiner's office said he "died from complications from a right hip fracture due to a fall" after being "pushed by another." The report also said Gutmann suffered from dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The homicide label simply means Gutmann "died at the hands of another," said Roberta Geiselhart, supervisor of investigations for the Hennepin County medical examiner.

"Medical examiners will use 'homicide' in very pure terms," she said. "We do not enter at all into intent. That is more of a legal matter."

Hennig told the Star Tribune she knew Gagne was likely responsible for her father's death. "My father would be alive today if Verne Gagne had not lifted him off the floor and thrown him down. It doesn't mean that I blame Verne Gagne. He had Alzheimer's, so I don't think you can actually hold him responsible for what he did."