The pending criminal trial of Jill and Julie Barry will have an important impact on Illinois seniors as it will help define what constitutes ‘reasonable care’ when it comes to the home-care of elders. Currently, prosecutors in Illinois have few parameters when it comes to the definition of ‘elder abuse’ because Illinois courts have not formally ruled on the issue before. Consequently, the decision as to how to define ‘reasonable care‘ in a criminal neglect context will fall squarely on jurors.
In 2008, Kane County State’s Attorney, John Barsanti filed criminal neglect charges against the Barry sisters related to their responsibility to provide care to their elderly mother. Kane County jurors will soon make a determination if the care the sisters provided was ‘reasonable’– or criminal- for their 84-year-old mother.
The criminal charges follow a 2007 Kane County Coroner-ordered investigation. The coroner ruled Mary Virgina Barry’s death was a homicide due to the physical sings of neglect encountered during an autopsy.
An investigation revealed that prior to her death, Ms. Barry weighed just 70 pounds, had extensive bed sores, and had not seen a doctor for nine months. According to a paramedic report, Ms. Barry was lying in soiled bed sheets and had ants crawling on her when authorities were called to her home. Barry was immediately taken to a local hospital where she died several days later.
Elder abuse: Trial to shed light on horrors in home and help home Illinois law, chicagotribune.com, April 2, 2009
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