On Wednesday, Jan. 4, in a Kern County Superior Court appearance, co-defendants Joseph McCoy, and his mother, Darlene Green, entered no contest pleas in the case of elder abuse leading to the death of 90-year-old Margaret Gray on April 1. Gray was Green’s mother and McCoy’s grandmother. McCoy had been Gray’s IHSS primary caregiver since he turned 18 in 1999.
At Wednesday’s hearing, McCoy and Green stood with their court-appointed attorneys at their sides as Judge Michael Bush read the plea bargain agreement. McCoy and Green then entered their pleas.
McCoy, 30, of Lake Isabella, faces a maximum of five years in prison for his plea to one count of elder abuse and his admission of causing harm or death to an elderly person, which renders the count a strike offense (See Sidebar on page A3).
Green, 54, of Weldon, faces a maximum of one year in local custody and felony probation for her plea to one count of elder abuse as a co-defendant in the case. The charge of causing harm or death to an elderly person against Green was dismissed.
At sentencing, Bush will review the pre-sentencing report, prepared by the Kern County Probation Department, and enter the final sentence.
Also on Feb. 2 , McCoy will be sentenced on the charge of spousal abuse against his ex-girlfriend, Doreena McCartney, of Lake Isabella, the mother of his child.
Earlier last year, on April 22, McCoy pled no contest to the spousal abuse charge. Sentencing was postponed until the outcome of the present case.
At a preliminary hearing in Bakersfield on July 20, Green was visibly shaken – by her arrest and having to appear in court that day.
In the proceedings that lasted the better part of the day, the gruesome details of the condition that Gray was found in were brought to light.
Sitting next to his attorney, McCoy listened to the parade of witnesses retell what they observed at his grandmother’s Reeder Street house, and his eyes welled with tears.
Nathaniel St. Clair, CARE Ambulance paramedic, testified that when he entered Gray’s bedroom on Feb. 11, he was “knocked back” by the smell of feces combined with decaying flesh. He said that he found Gray in the bed, her skin stuck to the sheets and even interwoven with the fabric of her clothes. There were numerous bed sores and ulcers on her body. St. Clair stated that the flies were so thick in the room that he had to “bat them away as he was trying to assist Miss Gray.”
On that afternoon, Kern Valley Hospital’s then-Emergency room Director, Dr. Manuel Sacapano, testified, “In 11 years, this is the worst case of elder abuse I have ever seen.” He testified the ulcer on Gray’s back was a Grade 4, which meant that it has to take some time to rot the skin through, down to her spine.
According to Sacapano, upon Gray’s arrival at the hospital, she was treated for her condition the best way possible and made ready for her transfer to San Joaquin Community in Bakersfield. “She was going to need an entire team of doctors to help her,” Sacapano said. “Her overall condition was very, very poor.” In addition to the bed sores and ulcers, Gray was suffering from severe malnutrition and dehydration, Sacapano said.
After further treatment at San Joaquin, Gray was placed in the care of Dr. Anthony Milanes of the Bakersfield Family Medical Center. Milanes is the overseer at the elderly care unit of the facility known as Lifehouse. Milanes said that Gray arrived at Lifehouse towards the end of February, where she was treated with antibiotics for the ulcers and sepsis that had developed throughout her body. She was there until her death on April 1, 2011. Milanes testified that the sepsis, a severe illness in which the bloodstream is overwhelmed by bacteria and is commonly known as blood poisoning, was caused by the formation of the ulcers and had happened over time. Milanes said that these were a result of Gray’s deteriorating condition.
According to the testimony given by Senior Sheriff’s Deputy, Marco Vazquez, when he arrived at the house on Reeder St. he was met by Gray’s daughter, Barbara Mendez of Baldwin Park. Mendez told Vazquez that she was there to visit her mother for Gray’s 90th birthday. When she arrived, Wendy Reyes, the women Mendez had hired to come over and get Gray ready to celebrate her birthday, told her that things were not right with Gray. Mendez was disturbed by what she saw and called 911. Vazquez arrived at the house at 9:46 p.m. to investigate a report of elder abuse. According to the Deputy, when he came to the house, CARE Ambulance and the fire department were already on scene. Vazquez testified that Melody Batelaan from Aging and Adult Services was also present. According to Vazquez. Mendez told him that she had last seen her mother on Dec. 23, 2010 and that at that time she didn’t see anything odd or out of the ordinary.
SOURCE: The Kern Valley Sun
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