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November 3, 2011

Jury Selection Underway in Richmond Elder Abuse Trial (USA)

November 01, 2011 

A trial started Tuesday for a Richmond man accused of neglecting his 86-year-old mother, who was found dead with bedsores, gangrene and surrounded by flies.
Richard Lee Wallace, 57, stands charged with elder abuse or neglect of an incapacitated adult resulting in death.
Prosecutors told a Richmond Circuit Court jury Tuesday that the defendant had been responsible for Elsie Wallace but had failed to get her medical care as she deteriorated. Defense attorneys disputed that their client had been his mother’s caregiver and argued that she had hated doctors and hospitals and hadn’t seen her primary physician since 2001. Richard Wallace was trying his best to live up to his mother’s wishes, they said.
Prosecutor Kelli Burnett said in her opening statement that medics arrived at the home of the mother and son in the 1500 block of Drewry Street in South Richmond on April 18. They found the elderly woman’s body on a couch in the cluttered home amid hundreds of flies, according to the testimony of a paramedic, who estimated she had been dead no more than one hour.
The filthy body had bedsores containing maggots, Burnett said. The cause of death was a bacterial infection in the blood caused by gangrene, according to medical testimony.
Burnett said the defendant lived with his mother for most of his adult life and in 2008 assumed handling her finances after noticing she “could be easily talked into things.”
Elsie Wallace, who had Alzheimer’s disease, lost the ability to walk in November 2010 and spent much of the final months of her life on the torn-up couch at the home, Burnett said. The prosecutor said the woman stopped speaking about a week before she died but that her son sought no medical help, not even from a nurse living next door.
He only called an ambulance after she already was dead because he was unable to move the body, Burnett said. Richard Wallace told investigators that his mother had not had medical care since 2004, when she was in a car accident. He also told them he had put antibiotic cream on one or more of her sores but hadn’t realized how serious the wounds were until the day she died.
Assistant Public Defender Alison Monroe noted that the medical examiner’s office ruled the manner of Elsie Wallace’s death to be by natural causes, not by homicide. Monroe described the woman as a hoarder who had thrown her son out of her house when he was age 15, causing him to have a nervous breakdown, but that she later let him return.
“Ms. Wallace was charming but controlling,” Monroe said. “She liked to be the queen bee, the top dog.”
The trial is expected to finish on Wednesday.


SOURCE:     The Times Dispatch
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