September 30, 2014

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Attorney says man wasn’t trying to abuse elderly mother

LORAIN — Steven Whitman wasn’t trying to abuse his 70-year-old mother, who was discovered by Lorain police with multiple broken bones and covered in urine and feces last week, his court-appointed attorney said Thursday.

Whitman

John Prusak said Whitman, 51, had once had home health care for Janet Whitman, but that service ceased some time ago and the mother had refused her son’s requests to allow him to call an ambulance so she could receive medical care for her injuries.

“Once the home health care stopped, he was doing what he could and, from what the police are saying, it just wasn’t enough,” Prusak said.

Lorain police Lt. Roger Watkins scoffed at that argument.

“He has a duty of care to that 70-year-old mother who had serious medical issues,” Watkins said.

Police were called to the Whitmans’ Delaware Avenue home after a neighbor reported hearing Steven Whitman screaming and possibly assaulting his mother Nov. 19. Neighbors later told police that Whitman often screams at his mother, including telling her he wished she were dead.

Whitman told police, whom he met in his driveway, that he was yelling because his mother had spilled her dinner.

When officers went inside the house, they smelled garbage, human waste and spoiled food, according to a police report.

Janet Whitman, who police estimated weighed around 70 pounds and had difficulty communicating, was in a recliner covered in food, urine and feces. Although Steven Whitman said his mother had just urinated, police wrote, “it was obvious she had been in her own waste for multiple days or longer without care.”

She also had bruises on her face and neck, the report said. Paramedics discovered that Janet Whitman had a broken left arm with the bone almost protruding from the skin.

Once she was taken to a hospital, medical personnel found that she had a broken hip and bed sores.

Watkins said Janet Whitman continues to receive medical care and is doing better than she was when police found her, although he declined to discuss details of her medical condition.

Whitman agreed Thursday to have the domestic violence, patient abuse and gross neglect and failure to provide for a functionally impaired person charges he faces bound over to a county grand jury.

Prusak said his client’s bond was cut from $100,000 to $65,000 in Lorain Municipal Court, but he added that it’s unlikely Whitman can afford to pay for his release. If Whitman is released from the Lorain County Jail, he will be required to wear a GPS tracking device.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.