The daughter and 17-year-old granddaughter of an 82-year-old Baton Rouge woman found dead in her wheelchair Sept. 29 — naked, sitting in feces and surrounded by trash, gnats and fruit flies — were indicted Wednesday on manslaughter charges.
Joleslie Looney, 53, and Lauren Looney both face up to 40 years in prison if convicted as charged in the death of Bessie Looney in her home at 1081 N. Acadian West.
Joleslie Looney and her daughter were Bessie Looney’s main caregivers, police have said.
An autopsy showed Bessie Looney died from a blood infection caused by infected bedsores that pocked her body. The Coroner’s Office ruled her death a homicide. Malnutrition, dementia and heart disease also were contributing factors in the woman’s death, parish Coroner Beau Clark has said.
The indictment returned by an East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury alleges that Joleslie and Lauren Looney, both of 1081 N. Acadian West, unlawfully killed Bessie Looney between May 14, 2013, and Sept. 29 of this year.
District Attorney Hillar Moore III, who was in state District Judge Bonnie Jackson’s courtroom for the return of the indictment, said afterward the case is a very sad one and added he believes manslaughter is the appropriate charge for both defendants.
Robert Tucker, who represented Lauren Looney on Oct. 2 when state District Judge Mike Erwin set bond for Lauren Looney and her mother at $100,000 apiece, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The public defender’s office, which has been appointed to represent Joleslie Looney, also had no comment.
Joleslie and Lauren Looney initially were booked on cruelty to the infirm counts of, but they were later rebooked on manslaughter and obstruction of justice charges. Police spokesman Cpl. L’Jean McKneely has said homicide detectives found soiled clothes and bed linens in the trash at the home.
If the case goes to trial, prosecutor Dana Cummings said evidence relating to what was found in the home would be presented as part of the manslaughter charge.
Police found Bessie Looney after receiving a 911 call at 5 a.m. Sept. 29 about an unresponsive and possibly dead woman in the home. Police and paramedics found Bessie Looney unclothed and in a wheelchair atop a soiled disposable pad that McKneely has said investigators suspect had been there for a while.
Both Joleslie and Lauren Looney told police “they were aware of the victim’s condition, but the condition did not appear to be severe to them, therefore the victim did not receive any medical care,” according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Bessie Looney was severely malnourished and had severely infected bedsores on her hips and buttocks area, the affidavit states, and her wheelchair was lined with a disposable pad that was soiled with human waste.
Clark has said Bessie Looney’s bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, “had the appearance of obvious infection.”
Joleslie Looney and her daughter remain in custody.