Hesperia woman faces year in jail for vulnerable adult abuse.

September 25, 2017

Rebecca Deters with her attorney, Terry Shaw, during a court hearing earlier this month.

Hesperia woman faces year in jail for vulnerable adult abuse.

#OceanaCountyCourtNews

By Allison Scarbrough. Editor.

HART — A 41-year-old Hesperia woman faces serving one year in jail after pleading “no contest” in 27th Circuit Court Monday, Sept. 25, to second-degree vulnerable adult abuse in connection to the death of a 55-year-old disabled man.

Rebecca Ann Deters, of 5030 E. Loop Rd., was initially charged with a more serious felony of homicide/involuntary manslaughter, which carries a 15-year maximum, but it was dismissed in a plea agreement. She also was charged with misdemeanors of failure to report the discovery of a dead body and attempted removal of a dead body without the medical examiner’s permission.

As Scott McCallum’s caregiver, she cared for the bedridden man, who suffered from multiple sclerosis. McCallum died Jan. 4, 2017, and Deters did not report his death to authorities until two days later.

Oceana County Prosecutor Joseph Bizon explained that his office was not able to prosecute Deters with the more serious charge, because testimony from an expert witness during the preliminary exam concluded that Deters had no obligation to get McCallum to a doctor. Also, the opinion of a second expert witness called by the defense concluded that McCallum’s death was unavoidable.

“At preliminary examination the people’s expert, a board-certified forensic pathologist, Dr. David Start, testified that the victim died from sepsis caused from the failure to adequately treat bed sores,” said Bizon. “This professional’s opinion was that the wounds became infected leading to a sudden death.”

“In order to prove the manslaughter charge, it would have to be proven that Deters had a legal obligation by statute or contract, and that failure to perform that legal duty caused the death of the victim, Scott McCallum,” Bizon said.

“Also testifying at preliminary exam was the Department of Health and Human Services Adult Protective Services/Independent Living case worker. The worker testified that Ms. Deters was the contracted home health provider and was responsible for such duties as skin care, but when asked if Ms. Deters had an obligation to get the victim to a doctor, he testified that he did not believe she was contractually obligated to do so,” Bizon explained.

“The defendant obtained the opinion of a second highly-qualified expert who disagrees with the state’s expert. This expert believes the sores and death were unavoidable,” he said.

The pathologist, who did not testify but would have disputed the conclusions of the prosecution’s expert wintess, disagreed with ruling it a homicide.

“Based on the analysis of this evidence, the defendant was allowed to plead to a reduced felony of vulnerable adult abuse, second degree, with an agreed-upon sentence of one year in the county jail. This result is consistent with the evidence presented in the preliminary exam and consistent with what is believed to be provable in court,” the prosector said.

Deters is scheduled for sentencing Nov. 20 at 9:30 a.m.

This story is copyrighted © 2017, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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