TACOMA, WA – Today a jury found Larry Lee, 51, guilty of Murder in the Second Degree for the death of Philip Carter, 59. The jury also found Lee guilty of Manslaughter in the First Degree and returned a special verdict finding that the victim was particularly vulnerable. The jury delivered their verdicts following a 6 day trial.
“Protecting elders and vulnerable adults is one of our top priorities,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “Deputy Prosecutors Erika Nohavec and Bryce Nelson vigorously tried the case and reinforced the message that we emphasize the protection of vulnerable adults in Pierce County.”
Lindquist noted that successful prosecutions of caregivers for neglect is rare, but he expects such prosecutions to increase with improvements in awareness, training, and collaboration among agencies. Elder abuse crimes have historically been underreported. This is the first time a caregiver was tried for murder since the Prosecutor’s Office Elder Abuse Unit was formed in 2012.
Philip Carter was admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital in May of 2015 after Lee, his caregiver, had found him unresponsive. Carter had been living under the care of Lee for several years. Lee had received payments totaling thousands of dollars to care for Carter. Carter suffered from mild mental impairment requiring the daily assistance of caregiver.
Carter was treated for several large and deep bed sores, the worst of which was 8 x 13 inches and went down to the bone. Before Carter’s admission to the hospital, the sores had been packed with paper towels. Lee’s failure to treat the sores properly or seek medical care resulted in a serious infection that caused Carter’s death within hours of arriving at the hospital.
On the day that Lee found Carter nonresponsive, he “cleaned him up a bit” and then called paramedics. When Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to the hospital, they described the odor of rotting flesh coming from Carter’s hospital room as overwhelming. Hospital staff told officers it was the worst case of neglect some of them had ever seen.
Sentencing is set for June 30. Lee is being held in custody without bail pending sentencing.
For more information, please contact John Nourse at (253) 798-6243, [email protected].