An Independence man pleaded guilty to letting his mother slowly die in filth and squalor.
But he won't face the stiff prison sentence prosecutors had sought after new evidence indicated that the woman had refused medical care.
James "Eddie" Owens pleaded guilty to felony forgery and third-degree elder abuse, which is a misdemeanor. The original charges against the man included involuntary manslaughter.
Owens attempted to cash Carol Brown's Social Security check four days after she died. He forged her signature on the check.
Court documents described the filth and squalor that firefighters found Brown in when authorities rushed to the scene when Owens reported his mother had suffered a stroke.
"The victim was described as a rotting corpse that was still breathing," according to court documents.
An Independence Fire Department captain said the woman had to be physically pried from a vinyl reclining chair in the living room, according to court documents.
"The victim's legs were fused to the chair and her legs had to be physically separated from the foot rest portion of the chair leaving behind yellowish skin tissue," according to an affidavit from Independence police detectives. "When she was removed from the chair, there were flying insects around her body."
Bodily fluids and feces were heavily present. Hospital staff said the woman had a maggot infestation on an open sore around her ankle, according to court documents.
Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said she had to drop the involuntary manslaughter charge after learning that Brown "had told other family members just days before her death that she refused medical care."
Baker said the testimony was only recently discovered.
"This testimony prevented the state from proving that the defendant was responsible for her death by failing to provide adequate medical care," according to Baker's statement.
As part of his guilty plea, Owens will serve a year in the Jackson County Jail.
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