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Judge sends elder abuse case to grand jury

Posted on Friday, November 13th, 2020 at 1:14 pm    

Two people in Mobile County face six counts of elder abuse in a group home where officials said six elderly men were found in “deplorable” conditions in May 2020.

Police were called to the home after reports that a man had fallen outside. The officers found five other men inside who appeared to be malnourished, in poor condition, and surrounded by human waste and vermin.

In October 2020, Mobile County District Judge Spiro Cheriogotis found probable cause to send the case against Donny Owens and his wife, Tilena Owens, to a grand jury.

The group home was reportedly staffed by only one employee, who worked five days a week from about 8 am to 5 pm. The employee, who has not been charged with any crime, told investigators that she fed the residents on a meal plan designed by the Owens couple, and that food and medicine cabinets were locked when she was not there.

The police officer who first arrived at the group home, Jonathan Bush, testified that there was evidence that the men were not receiving adequate nutrition, apparently having at least once all shared a box of macaroni and cheese for a single meal.

Bush also testified that they found one of the victims confined to a chair with an infected open wound that was infested with flies and maggots. When this victim was transferred to the hospital, doctors said they might have to amputate the leg.

Another victim was apparently suffering from schizophrenia and was physically unstable and in danger of falling. This victim also had open sores on his feet. Doctors reported that this victim’s health condition warranted 24/7 medical care, even though the home’s one employee only worked a 9-hour shift.

The lawyer representing the Owens, Dennis Knizley, disputed the claims.

“I don’t think you’re going to find any urine. You’re not going to find feces or find any roaches,” he commented after a hearing.

Knizley also asserted that there was apparently no photographic evidence of the scene where the men were found.

Contact an Alabama elder abuse attorney today

The horrific scenes described in the Mobile County case echo many nursing home and elder abuse cases from across the state. Older adults are less able to advocate for themselves and are vulnerable to abuse and neglect from negligent caretakers or nursing home operators.

If you believe that your loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse or elder abuse, you should contact an attorney right away. While elder abuse is a criminal charge, you may also be eligible to file a civil lawsuit against the party that perpetrated the abuse against your loved one. You may be able to recover compensation for your loved one’s medical bills and pain and suffering. We understand that compensation cannot heal the pain of seeing your loved one suffer after experiencing elder abuse, but compensation can help reduce financial stress while your loved one and your family recover.

At Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP, we understand the devastating impact that elder abuse can have on families. We are here to support you with your legal effort during this difficult time. Call us at (859) 550-2900 to schedule your free consultation.

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