Just hours after 82-year-old Bessie Looney died a gruesome death in 2014, the woman's daughter told Baton Rouge police in a videotaped statement that she wasn't aware of the severity of her mother's bedsores, including one on her hip that a detective said was "almost to the bone."

The statement was played Wednesday before a jury hearing the case against Joleslie Looney, 56, who is charged with manslaughter in her mother's death. She faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted as charged.


Looney was questioned by detectives Sherri Harris and Logan Collins on Sept. 29, 2014, the same day her mother passed away in a wheelchair at their home on North Acadian West. In the interview, Harris pointedly asks Looney how she failed to recognize the large, infected bedsore on her mother's right hip.

"I knew she had that bedsore. I didn't know it had gotten that bad," she replied.

An incredulous Harris pointed out that the bedsore was "oozing with infection" and asked Looney how she could have missed it if she had been taking proper care of her mother.

"I don't know," Looney said more than once.

From the witness stand Wednesday, Harris told Looney's court-appointed attorney, Stephen Sterling, that his client was "deceitful" during portions of her interview.

Looney and her daughter, Lauren Looney, who was 17 at the time of Bessie Looney's death, were the elderly woman's primary caregivers in 2013 and 2014. Lauren Looney, 21, also is charged with manslaughter and is slated to stand trial March 19. She is free on bail, unlike her mother.


Harris told Joleslie Looney in the police interview that Bessie Looney was her responsibility, not her daughter's.

"You're the responsible adult in the house," the detective said.

Harris also noted a large, open bedsore was discovered on Bessie Looney's buttocks when her body was removed from the wheelchair and lifted off a soiled pad.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office classified Bessie Looney's death as a homicide after concluding she died from a blood infection caused by severely infected bedsores. Coroner's officials also said dementia, heart disease and malnutrition contributed to her passing.

Harris told Joleslie Looney in the videotaped statement that she "ignored" signs that her mother  — and Looney herself — needed outside help. Harris labeled as "heartwrenching" what Bessie Looney went through leading up to her death.


Earlier Wednesday, Bessie Looney's son testified he spoke with his mother by phone a few months before her death and had no reason to suspect her life was in jeopardy.

"No red flags were raised. She was coherent," Thomas Looney III said of his mother.

Thomas Looney, who lives in Tennessee, said his mother moved from Tennessee to Louisiana to live with his sister and her daughter around the spring of 2013. He said he did not know his mother was using a wheelchair until he learned of her death.

Five or six weeks before Bessie Looney died, Thomas Looney said, his sister told him their mother was "getting a little forgetful." But Joleslie Looney did not indicate that she needed help caring for their mother, he added.

The trial will resume Thursday in state District Judge Mike Erwin's 19th Judicial District courtroom.

Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.