A Martinez mother and daughter accused in the 2011 death of an elderly woman in their care pleaded guilty Monday.
Deborah Yvonne Hill, 50, and Brittany Michelle Hurst, 21, were charged with murder and cruelty to a person over 65 in the death of 85-year-old Blanche Aline Carpenter in August 2011. Hill also faced charges of cruelty to children and failing to educate her children.
Hill pleaded guilty at a hearing Monday to voluntary manslaughter, cruelty to the elderly and cruelty to children as part of a negotiated plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office, according to Assistant District Attorney John T. O’Neal. Superior Court Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet sentenced Hill to 15 years in prison followed by 20 years on probation. She also is not allowed to be the primary caregiver of minors or the elderly, or to own pets.
Hurst was sentenced to 10 years on probation after she pleaded guilty to cruelty to the elderly. The judge ordered Hurst to obtain her GED, remain employed and undergo a psychological evaluation and complete any recommended treatment, according to O’Neal.
Hill and Hurst were acting as Carpenter’s caregivers at their Locks Hill home when they reported her death to police on Aug. 25, 2011.The family moved from Albany, Ga., a few weeks earlier. Carpenter, a life partner of Hill’s grandmother, was under hospice care for numerous illnesses and was not ambulatory. Hill, who was already taking care of her disabled husband, also took over caring for her grandmother and Carpenter.
Hill’s attorney, Jacque Hawk, has said that both women were ill, but neither wanted to go to a nursing home.
According to authorities, Carpenter had been dead about two days. An autopsy revealed she died from medical complications of neglect.
Both women initially claimed Carpenter had been responsive earlier in the day in the bedroom she shared with Hill’s grandmother. Hurst later told authorities she knew of Carpenter’s demise, and she was covered with a plastic sheet that sheriff’s deputies found in a garbage can, according to investigators.
Authorities say Hill’s children, then ages 16, 11, and 9, lived in unsanitary conditions and that two had not been sent to school. They described the two younger children as “functionally illiterate” and the youngest had likely never been to school.
Hill’s grandmother and husband were transferred to the supervision of Adult Protective Services and moved into assisted living facilities.
Hurst was released from the Columbia County Detention Center in December 2011 after Overstreet granted her a $25,000 bond, according to jailers. Hill, who was granted a $50,000 bond, was released in January 2012.