A Cape Breton man accused of murdering his common-law partner has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment.

40-year-old Richard Wayne MacNeil of Gardiner Mines is charged with first degree murder in connection with the death of 33-year-old Sarabeth Ann Forbes.

The ruling was made Friday morning in a Sydney court room. Both families were in court and were visibly upset.

"His lawyer made an application and the Judge granted it to have his mental fitness tested, whether or not he's fit to stand trial and also looking at whether or not he was not criminally responsible," says Crown Attorney Glenn Guthro.

Police were called to a Gardiner Mines residence on April 18. Upon arrival, Forbes was found dead inside. Forbes’ common-law partner and the father of her nine-year-old son was arrested at the scene.

MacNeil is scheduled back in court on May 26.