A 56-year-old woman was swiftly convicted of manslaughter Friday in the horrific 2014 bedsore-related death of her 82-year-old mother in their North Acadian Thruway West home.

Joleslie Looney now faces up to 40 years in prison. State District Judge Mike Erwin will sentence her April 10.

Looney's 21-year-old daughter, Lauren Looney, is scheduled to stand trial March 19 on a manslaughter charge. She was only 17 at the time of her grandmother's death in September 2014.


Joleslie Looney had entered a dual plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity, even though doctors found her sane at the time of Bessie Looney's death.

An East Baton Rouge Parish jury of 11 women and one man deliberated for about 40 minutes Friday before unanimously finding Looney guilty as charged.

The autopsy photographs of an emaciated Bessie Looney's bedsores were gruesome, and the jury saw a number of them during the trial.

"They said the pictures were too much, too graphic to overcome," Joleslie Looney's attorney, Stephen Sterling, said after speaking with jurors in private with the judge and prosecutor.


Joleslie Looney did not testify in her own defense.

Dr. William "Beau" Clark, the parish coroner who testified at the trial, classified Bessie Looney's death a homicide after concluding she died from a blood infection caused by severely infected pressure sores, or bedsores. He also found that malnutrition, dementia and heart disease were contributing factors in her death.

Prosecutor Dana Cummings told jurors in her closing argument Friday that Joleslie Looney left her mother — dehydrated, starving, caked in human waste and riddled with infected bedsores — strapped in a wheelchair to die. She said the crime scene photos of the woman folded over in the chair and the autopsy pictures spoke a thousand words.

"She was tortured in that chair," Cummings said, reminding the jury that Bessie Looney's skin stuck to the wheelchair strap and to a soiled pad she was sitting on when her body was removed from the chair.

Cummings also told jurors that no pain medication was found in Bessie Looney's system at the time of her death.

"She was a prisoner in that chair in her pain," the prosecutor said. "I can't imagine any more unjustifiable pain and suffering."


Cummings argued that Looney made a conscious decision to let her mother die in her wheelchair. She said Bessie Looney's daughter watched her mother "waste away" and never sought help.

"How can you even think about doing that to somebody you love?" Cummings asked rhetorically to the jury.

In his closing argument to the jury, Sterling accused Baton Rouge police of jumping to conclusions when they arrested Looney and her daughter. Sterling described Bessie Looney as "an elderly woman with a litany of medical problems" and he challenged Clark's finding that she died from septic shock.


"She did the best she could with what she had," Sterling said of Joleslie Looney's care of her elderly mother, while acknowledging that the photos of Bessie Looney's wounds bothered him as well. "Every time there's a tragic death doesn't mean it's criminal."

The final witness in the case, psychiatrist Herman Soong, testified earlier Friday that he found Joleslie Looney was sane at the time of her mother's death. Soong concluded she had no mental disease or defect at that time.

Soong, who evaluated Joleslie Looney twice, testified she initially denied knowing about her mother's bedsores, then said she wasn't aware of their severity. Soong also said Looney told him she took her mother to Baton Rouge General Medical Center several times, but the jury heard during the trial that the hospital had no records of such visits.

Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.