INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) – A suburban Kansas City man pleaded guilty pleaded guilty to elder abuse after his 74-year-old mother was left sitting in a vinyl recliner for so long that her skin fused to the chair, forcing her to be pried out to be taken to a hospital after an apparent stroke.
James Owens, 53, of Independence, was sentenced to a year in jail Wednesday after pleading guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court. Owens, who was caring for his mother, also admitted to forging his mother’s signature on her Social Security check and cashing it four days after her death.
Police were called after Owens’ mother, Carol Brown, was taken to a hospital last October and found to have a maggot infestation inside an open wound around her ankle, according to a court document.
Owens told a state official he had left his mother in the chair for five days without helping her get up to use the bathroom or bathe because he was honoring her wishes to die in her Independence home. Owens said he did give the woman tomato and chicken noodle soup, the court document said.
The court document also described Brown as a “rotting corpse that was still breathing” and said her home was “filthy with a heavy smell of bodily fluids and feces.”
Owens initially was charged with involuntary manslaughter. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker issued a statement Wednesday saying that the state was required to reduce the charge after learning the victim had told other family members just days before her death that she refused medical care.
“This testimony prevented the state from proving that the defendant was responsible for her death by failing to provide adequate medical care,” Baker said. “This testimony was only recently discovered by prosecutors.”
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