TACOMA, WA – Today the court sentenced Larry Lee, 51, to 220 months in prison for the death of Philip Carter, 59. The sentence is the high end of the standard range, as requested by deputy prosecutors Erika Nohavec and Bryce Nelson. Nohavec told Judge Michael Schwartz that medical professionals called this “one of the worst cases of neglect they had seen.”
A jury found Lee guilty of second degree murder on June 15, finding also that Carter was a particularly vulnerable victim.
Prosecutor Mark 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.
In October 2015, Pierce County was awarded one of nine nationwide grants for elder abuse. The $370,985 grant from the Department of Justice is to support a comprehensive approach to addressing elder abuse. The Prosecutor’s Office is coordinating with local law enforcement agencies and victim service organizations to increase and strengthen training, form a community response team and increase access to victim services.
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.
For more information, please contact John Nourse at (253) 798-6243, [email protected].