EL CAJON (CNS) - A man and his mother, who neglected a severely disabled family member for months in the family's El Cajon apartment, resulting in his death, were sentenced Friday to six- and two-year prison terms, respectively.
Christopher Travis Marlow, 27, and Deborah Dawn Marlow, 59, pleaded guilty in May to dependant adult abuse causing great bodily injury in the death last year of 28-year-old Jeremy Marlow.
Judge Peter Deddeh said Christopher Marlow bore most of the responsibility to care for his brother because his mother could not properly care for her older son due to serious health concerns of her own.
The judge wondered why Christopher Marlow didn't call an agency to take care of his disabled sibling when he realized it was too much for him to handle.
"He (the defendant) stayed at home and was supported by Jeremy's (government) money," the judge said. "It happened on his watch. It didn't need to happen."
Deputy Public Defender Ann Sommers said her client was forced into caring for his brother when their mother couldn't. She said Christopher Marlow had some mental health issues after being mugged in late 2009.
"He certainly did not have criminal intent," Sommers told the judge. "He did not want his brother to die."
Deputy Alternate Public Defender Olivia Gilliam said Deborah Marlow had so many health issues -- including cancer and losing a leg -- that she couldn't keep caring for Jeremy like she had done his whole life.
Marlow's daughter and her husband came from Georgia in 2009 to help with Jeremy for nine months in 2009, but his health took a turn for the worst and he died a few months later.
Gilliam said Deborah Marlow would ask Christopher if Jeremy was OK and he would respond that everything was under control.
Jeremy Marlow -- who had cerebral palsy and was severely developmentally disabled -- was taken to Grossmont Hospital and taken off life support five days later on Jan. 26, 2010.
According to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, he had not seen a doctor in a year, weighed less than 100 pounds and was covered with sores when he arrived at the hospital. Doctors said he was brought in too late to be saved.
Deputy District Attorney Kurt Mechals said the victim had so many diseases that doctors couldn't determine what he died from.
Investigators who went to the Marlow family's apartment on Graves Avenue in unincorporated El Cajon found the door to Jeremy's room locked and had to pry it open, according to Mechals. When they did, they found a mattress covered in body waste and black mold.
"I can't think of anything more tragic that what happened here," Mechals told the judge.