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Published: Thursday, 12/18/2008

Aunt convicted of neglecting niece gets 3 years probation

A 71-year-old woman whose bed-ridden niece died under her care was sentenced Thursday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to three years probation.

Naomi George, 71, of 1812 Ridgewood Ave., pleaded no contest Nov. 3 to one count of reckless homicide. As part of the plea agreement, a second charge of failure to care for a functionally impaired person was dismissed.

Assistant County Prosecutor Jeff Lingo said that the elder George took care of her niece since the younger woman’s father died in the mid-1990s. He said Lorna George was born with a condition known as hydrocephalus, which occurs as a result of excess fluid on the skull, and had been bedridden since birth.

Police were called to the Ridgewood Avenue house after George contacted a funeral home to make arrangements for her niece’s death. According to the coroner’s report, the disabled woman developed sepsis as a result of severe decubitus ulcers, which are open wounds on the outside of her body.

Judge Stacy Cook questioned Deputy Coroner Diane Barnett in court about the younger George’s condition when she died. Dr. Barnett testified that there were a significant amount of sores on the 52-year-old woman’s body, including several where the bone protruded through the ulcer.

Lorna George’s body showed signs consistent with not being moved for extended periods, Dr. Barnett said. She also testified that the sores could have been treated if taken care of properly.

Judge Cook noted that Ms. George, who has a limited mental capacity, was left virtually on her own caring for her disabled niece. She also noted that because of her mental disability, Ms. George was not aware that she was not properly caring for her niece.

Since Ms. George’s arrest earlier this year, family members have come forward to help, including a niece who was in court.

As part of her community control, Ms. George must clean up her house, which was described as a place "where time stood still" because of a lack of modern conveniences and the presence of multiple newspaper clippings from the 1950s and 1960s. She was also ordered to enlist an aide from Adult Protective Services and was told she could not care for anybody else.

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