Mount Carmel man charged with neglecting mother weighing court options
MOUNT CARMEL - The attorney for a borough man charged with neglecting his 86-year-old mother who was found last month malnourished, dehydrated and living in wretched conditions said the district attorney's office has offered her client a plea agreement.
Prior to waiving his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday afternoon on felonies of neglect of a care-dependent person and forgery, Joseph Francis Campbell, 56, of 213 S. Vine St., conferred with public defender Paige Rosini to determine if he wanted to fight the charges at trial or enter a plea when it reaches county court. Rosini said Campbell is still weighing his options and will await a pre-trial conference Feb. 7 at Northumberland County Courthouse.
Rosini said Assistant District Attorney William Cole's offer involves Campbell pleading guilty to the neglect charge that carries a prison sentence of 22 months to 3 years. The forgery charge would not be prosecuted under the plea agreement, Rosini said.
"At this point, we are requesting discovery evidence from the commonwealth and we will take it from there," Rosini said.
When asked how Campbell felt about charges and if he expressed any remorse, Rosini reserved comment.
After Rosini agreed to waive the reading of the criminal complaint filed against Campbell by Mount Carmel Cpl. David Donkochik, the defendant told Magisterial District Judge Hugh Jones that he understood the ramifications of forgoing his preliminary hearing.
Jones denied a motion by Rosini to reduce Campbell's $150,000 cash bail, citing the seriousness of the charges and the circumstances surrounding them.
Campbell declined comment while being escorted from the courtroom by Mount Carmel Chief of Police Todd Owens. The defendant was recommitted to Northumberland County Prison.
Several witnesses waiting in the lobby of Jones' office were excused when it was determined Campbell was going to waive his hearing. Tiffany Wernett, aging care manager for the protective services division of the Northumberland County Area Agency on Aging (AAA), and Marissa McAnnaney, an AAA supervisor, attended the brief legal proceeding, but reserved comment.
Donkochik and Owens praised Wernett, McAnnaney and other agency staff; Dr. Peter McNeil, and others who have been instrumental and cooperative in the investigation that led to Campbell's arrest.
Donkochik said, "We're lucky Dr. McNeil had the insight to check on the victim. I've never seen anybody in that condition. It's just deplorable and disgusting for him to neglect his mother that way."
Lifesaving house call
Campbell was the primary caregiver for his mother, Rose Marcoon, at their South Vine Street home. McNeil, a Mount Carmel family physician, told police he hadn't seen Marcoon since May and went to her home unannounced about 1:30 p.m. Nov. 1 to check on her well-being. He entered the unlocked home and called her name and heard her respond from upstairs.
McNeil found her in a filthy bedroom lying on a mattress stained by body fluids, her pants the same way. There were no bedsheets on the mattress, only a dirty blanket. A stale waffle was beneath the blanket and a water bottle and plate were on the floor. Alert but disoriented, Marcoon was thirsty and hungry, her stomach concave, and there were open sores and contusions all about her body.
The doctor called for paramedics, who called for a police officer and told the officer to bring a camera.
Patrolman Matthew Dillman documented the condition of the home through photographs.
According to a criminal complaint, the home was mostly clean and well-kept. The second-floor bedroom in which Marcoon was residing was anything but. It had an odor so foul and strong, itcould be smelled throughout the home. Dillman alerted Donkochik who reviewed the photographs and led the investigation.
Marcoon was taken for treatment to Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital, Coal Township, where she was given plenty of food and drink. She ate and drank at a pace so rapid, additional food was temporarily withheld to prevent complications.
She was weak and couldn't move her arms and legs. One leg could not be fully extended. Her weight was between 75 and 80 pounds.
Police said the deed to Marcoon's home was put in Campbell's name. A bank account was changed to a joint account. Campbell said he is unemployed and his mother's only caregiver.
Campbell told police he tried to convince his mother to seek medical attention, but that she put it off. He was aware of her declining health, but made no attempts to seek outside assistance for her care, the criminal complaint states.
Northumberland County Judge William H. Wiest removed Campbell as Marcoon's guardian during a hearing last month and granted emergency guardianship to Eldercare Solutions of Williamsport on the recommendation of Area Agency on Aging.
Marcoon is currently residing in an area nursing facility.