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No jail time for father and son in elder abuse death conviction

Prosecutors did not get what they wanted. Elder care reform advocates are upset, too. The source of the disappointment is a judge's decision to sentence the father and son operators of a Vista, California, assisted living facility to four years of probation after they were convicted of causing the death of an 85-year-old resident by neglect.

Resident Frank Kiser died at Bonair Rest Home in 2010. His body was reportedly covered with bedsores, a condition that can develop if a bedridden individual's body isn't frequently repositioned by caregivers.

The son had pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the case, and the owner of the facility had been found guilty by a jury of felony elder abuse. 

Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence the owner to 10 years in prison, but the judge rejected that request. Without explanation, he sentenced the man to 12 days already served, the four years of probation, 40 hours of community service and a $1,352 fine.

The son received 120 days in jail, which he will be able to serve through a work-furlough program. That will be followed by probation. He must also pay a fine.

Whether the circumstances of this case have spurred a civil action for possible wrongful death is not known at the time this is written. Loved ones of the victim might find that pursuing such a claim provides a sense of justice that may be lacking as a result of the criminal case. An attorney would be able to assess if such a case exists.

There is definitely a sense of anger from some in the community. Members of Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform have denounced the sentence as disheartening. As one of the group's members put it, "You would hope that if a jury finds a defendant guilty of felony elder abuse it would be taken seriously by the court."

Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, "Pair get probation in care-home death," Jeff McDonald, March 25, 2014

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