Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Jones County women sentenced to prison in abuse of 89-year-old man

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JONES COUNTY, Ga. -- Thursday, January 9 was an emotional scene as an 89-year-old man's family addressed the courtroom before final arguments ahead of sentencing.

In February 2018, certified nursing assistants Vonshell Napier and Beverly Burney Jackson of Lynn Haven Health and Rehabilitation in Gray were arrested for elder abuse.

On Monday, January 6, 2020 both plead guilty -- Napier to four counts of exploitation or intimidation of an elderly person, and Jackson to two counts of exploitation or intimidation of an elderly person

Cody Parks, grandson of the victim, lovingly known as Peppermint Paw Paw approached the bench saying, "My late grandfather, paw paw, told me in his last days, 'They're hurting me boy.' How can a man who served this country be tortured like this? He had to look forward to two monsters visiting him on his last days. All he would respond to us was, 'help me' in his last days."

After hearing these allegations from his grandfather, Parks says he installed a hidden camera that caught the abuse.

The video recordings started on January 15, 2018, but the videos with evidence of the victim being beaten began nearly two weeks later on January 31.

In one surveillance clip, the victim was being beaten while Napier was shown laughing and calling him expletives. The victim asked Napier repeatedly for her name and to stop hurting him.

The video continued, showing that later the victim's daughters came for a visit. While they were there, Napier and Jackson treated the victim differently and as soon as they left, the abuse picked back up again.

On February 1, the victim's family saw the video and learned of the abuse. A few weeks later on February 16, the victim died.

The defense team for Napier and Jackson argued on Thursday that the state didn't allege the suspects caused the victim's death, and the evidence shows he died from pneumonia and old age.

However, they made his last days miserable, the defense further argued.

Napier's lawyer Sheri Smith stated to the court, "They're accusing the deceased of being a racist and prejudice against African-Americans." However, Smith says this was no excuse and that they should've taken the high road.

Smith asked the judge to look at things from the perspective of an African-American having to care for a racist. Additionally, Smith says the victim can be heard in these videos addressing Napier as the 'N' word, and added that Napier had never been in trouble with law enforcement.

Keith Fitzgerald, Jackson's attorney, said his client had worked at that facility for over 20 years and not once had a complaint.

Community member Linda Haynes, whose mother had been cared for by Jackson, was also called to the witness stand on Thursday. She stated that Jackson was wonderful with her mother and this was the first problem she'd heard about the facility or Jackson.

Haynes added that if she'd had a large family like the victim's, her family wouldn't have put their mother in a nursing home. "My mother loved Beverly as if she was family. She felt safe," she said.

Thursday afternoon, attorneys for Napier asked for probation, or time in a detention center at minimum. Jackson's attorney also requested probation.

But state prosecutors asked for 20 years on all counts concurrent, and at least five years in prison.

The judge then sentenced Napier to four years in prison, 20 years probation, and to undergo an anger management program. Jackson received three years in prison and 20 years probation.

The judge told the defendants, "You're very wise to say you're sorry...I hope your children will learn from this."

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Jones County women sentenced to prison in abuse of 89-year-old man

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