CONCORD — The state’s highest court upheld a granddaughter’s conviction for negligent homicide in connection with an elderly woman who died in 2016 after she had been left to lie in her own urine and feces for five days inside an Exeter mobile home.
A panel of three members of the New Hampshire Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously rejected the appeal of Meritel Saintil, 35.
A Rockingham County judge had sentenced Saintil to two to four years in prison for the death of 75-year-old Nancy Parker.
The lower court jury found Saintil guilty of negligent homicide and failure to report adult abuse but innocent on the charge of criminal neglect against a senior adult.
“A reasonable person would have been aware there was a substantial and unjustifiable risk of death in allowing an elderly, obese, diabetic woman to remain on the floor in her own waste for five days in the middle of February, dressed only in a nightgown ‘soaked’ with urine and feces,” the justices wrote.
Parker died in February 2016 after developing necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating bacterial infection.
Prosecutors said they had never seen as extreme a case of elderly neglect.
The high court justices noted there was been a hole in the floor of the mobile home the “size of a basketball” and Saintil should have known she was in danger of contracting hypothermia if the grandmother was left there.
“Indeed, an emergency room physician testified that, when she examined the victim at the hospital, the victim ‘was on the brink’ of death. She was ‘cold to the touch and covered in stool from her waist to her toes,’” they wrote.
Last month, the Supreme Court sustained the conviction on similar charges of Saintil’s mother, Katherine Saintil-Brown, 55, of Houston, Texas, in connection with Parker’s death.
Prosecutors described Saintil and Saintil-Brown as Parker’s live-in caregivers.
They maintained the pair were motivated to let Parker suffer because they stood to inherit money upon her death.
Authorities said in both trials that it was a “difficult and challenging” case because Parker “must have been an especially difficult person” to care for given she didn’t practice personal hygiene and refused medical help.
But the trial judge said the decision to let her lie there and do nothing for five days was unacceptable and led to the death.
Associate Justice Gary Hicks wrote the sentence against Katherine Saintil-Brown, 55, was proper even though the lower court judge had erroneously instructed the jury about one of the three charges against her.