New Jersey

Murder Charge Dismissed Against Son Accused of Letting Elderly Dad Rot to Death

A man arrested last month in the death of his 92-year-old father can't be charged with murder or theft but can still face a manslaughter charge, a judge has ruled.

Chester County Magisterial District Judge John Bailey ruled at a preliminary hearing Monday that there wasn't enough evidence to support charges of third-degree murder, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property against 61-year-old Edward O'Brien III in the death of Edward O'Brien Jr.

"The sad fact is that regardless of the final conclusion, no one is going to win," Bailey said, according to the Daily Local News of West Chester. "For a man to die the way he did is very, very sad."

The judge, however, allowed involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangering charges to stand, saying he believed O'Brien hadn't provided proper medical care for his father, who moved to the Exton home from New Jersey in May 2011.

"I don't think he did due diligence on taking care of his father," Bailey said, according to the newspaper. "He should have received medical attention. That is the problem here."

Authorities said the older man was covered with bedsores and feces when he was found dead in September 2013. They accused the younger man of neglecting his father and stealing $30,000 from him.

Defense attorney Joseph Green Jr. said his client cared for his father daily until he died of natural causes, and he called the theft accusation "an outrage."

He cited a trip to Chester County Hospital when his father wrongly thought he was having a heart attack and suggested that the older man himself decided against regular doctor visits.

"The evidence here is that the decedent had the right not to be treated," Green said. "One of the rights he fought for (in the Army) was not to have bureaucrats tell him where he had to die."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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