NOKOMIS — An elderly man charged with killing his wife was confused who was dead the day after the slaying, a neighbor said. 

Grant Vero said he was talking to alleged killer John Richardson, 76, after he returned from talking to Sarasota County Sheriff's Office investigators in June. 

The house had been wrapped in yellow police caution tape. After being interrogated for a day, Richardson was dropped off at his home, Vero said.

Vero went outside and asked if Richardson was alright. It was early evening, and Vero, afraid Richardson wouldn't remember to feed himself, helped Richardson inside and got him something to eat.

Vero said he checked on Richardson that night around 11 p.m. to make sure he stayed inside.

"He didn't seem to understand what just happened. I asked about the death. And he said: 'Yes Mary…'"

Vero said Mary was John Richardson's mother.

"I said: 'No, the death of your wife.' He said: 'Oh yes, Judy,' dropped his head and put his hand to his forehead," Vero said.

Richardson is accused of killing Judith Richardson using hands, feet or fists as weapons, according to the arrest report. She died of multiple blunt force injuries to her head and upper body.

The idea of John Richardson being able to kill someone surprised Vero. He described John Richardson as a "frail, weak man" while also being "the most mellow, chill person."

Authorities said in their probable cause affidavit Richardson wouldn't admit to killing Judith Richardson on June 20.

"I'm not saying I didn't do it, and I'm not saying I did do it," Richardson reportedly stated. "My fears are I had something to do with her injuries." 

He told investigators he was having a difficult time recalling "an altercation with his wife the night before," the probable cause affidavit states.

The couple had been married about 40 years before her death. She was 74. 

Grant Vero said he was surprised there was no mention in the initial reports of John Richardson's struggle with dementia. 

A physio-muscular therapist who has worked with players on two Major League Baseball teams, Vero saw Richardson almost daily when Richardson would go out for a smoke and walk his dog.

"I'm a physical therapist and I've worked with a lot of people who have dementia. He definitely had it bad. ...He'd tell me, 'If you see me walking down the street, bring me home,'" Vero said.

They spoke often, Vero said. Vero indicated he knew John and Judith Richardson well, saying John is a retired CPA and Judith Richardson often seemed angry. 

"It was such a contrast. He was super passive. She was rude," Vero said.

Vero said John Richardson, like some with dementia, was good at hiding his condition.

"People with dementia don't say much. When they don't go into in-depth discussion, they (could be) hiding it. He was a quiet man," Vero said. 

Email: ggiles@venicegondolier.com

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