An Independence man whose dead mother was discovered partially stuck to a reclining chair pleaded guilty today to elder abuse and forgery.
Prosecutors had to settle for that after they realized they could not get a conviction for manslaughter.
James Owens, 53, will spend one year in the Jackson County jail.
He had been charged with involuntary manslaughter after his 74-year-old mother, with whom he lived, died last year of an apparent stroke. Her body had been left in the recliner for so long that her legs were fused to the chair and had to be pried from it, according to court documents. Hospital officials discovered a maggot-infested wound around her ankle.
Owens told an investigator with the Missouri Division of Senior and Disability Services that he was his mothers caretaker and had left her in the chair to comply with her wish to die at her home in the 300 block of North Peck Drive.
Owens initially was charged with forgery for allegedly endorsing his dead mothers $741 Social Security check. He was subsequently indicted for involuntary manslaughter in her death.
But prosecutors learned that Brown had told other family members days before her death that she had refused medical treatment.
This testimony prevented the state from proving that the defendant was responsible for her death by failing to provide adequate medical care, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a statement released by her office. This testimony was only recently discovered by prosecutors.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Owens pleaded guilty to felony forgery and elder abuse in the third degree, a misdemeanor.