Homicide charges not dismissed in sister death caseHomicide charges won't be dismissed against a Madison woman and her son in the death of the woman's sister in 2009 because they did have a legal duty to care for the sister before she died, a judge ruled Thursday.
By: By Ed Treleven, The Wisconsin State Journal, Superior Telegram
Homicide charges won't be dismissed against a Madison woman and her son in the death of the woman's sister in 2009 because they did have a legal duty to care for the sister before she died, a judge ruled Thursday.
Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington said that Veronica King, 71, and her son, Steven King, 45, had a legal duty to care for Mary Coleman, 70, after she suffered a possible stroke and fell to the floor of the Kings' Whenona Drive home on May 7, 2009.
Instead, according to a criminal complaint, they left her on the floor for two days until she died, refusing to call a doctor as Coleman had asked and giving her little if anything to eat or drink.
Remington said he disagreed with lawyers for Veronica King, who asked for the dismissal of two of the charges against her -- first-degree reckless homicide and causing death by recklessly subjecting an at-risk person to abuse -- because Veronica King had no duty under state law to care for Coleman, who was King's guardian.
On Thursday, the lawyer for Steven King joined in the motion and asked that the same charges against his client be dismissed.
The criminal complaint, Remington said, contained ample evidence of a long and close relationship between the two sisters, who had owned the house together since 1970 and lived there together until Coleman moved to an apartment in 1998. Coleman still spent much of her time at the house.
And even though King was Coleman's ward because of a stroke King suffered in 2008, she was able to drive a car, shop and take care of other tasks as Coleman's health declined, Remington said.
"The evidence is of a relationship between two sisters depending on each other," he said. "The relationship was reciprocal."
With the issue decided, a preliminary hearing in the case was rescheduled for Feb. 20.
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