JACKSON, Miss. – Two former employees of a Mississippi veterans home indicted for manslaughter in 2017, the death of a 93-year-old world war II veteran.
The police charged 25-year-old Jeanee Dunn of Oxford and the 41-year-old Bridget Austin of Abbeville with manslaughter by culpable negligence, more than a year after the Durley Bratton died in April 2017.
Oxford police chief Joey East told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday that investigators have long suspected Dunn and Austin had dropped Bratton and put him back in bed without telling anyone, leaving him to die of his injuries. The investigation began after officials at a Memphis, Tennessee, the hospital where Bratton was taken contacted the police, a few days before he died.
However, East says the researchers found that they do not have enough evidence to charge anyone until autopsy results were returned on July 2, the conclusion of Bratton died of blunt force trauma.
“We had interviewed the women and our research was in anticipation of a lot on the autopsy and medical examiner’s information,” said East
Dunn was arrested July 2. Austin Monday was arrested.
It is unclear why the autopsy took so long, even though Mississippi Department of Public Safety has said short-staffing under state medical researchers caused months of delay in producing the final results of the autopsy.
A court bail for both women at $250,000 and they were imprisoned. East said that he did not know, if a woman has a lawyer to speak for her. Charges have not yet been issued, but a manslaughter conviction could bring 2 to 20 years in prison.
The state Veterans Affairs Board runs four 150-bed nursing homes on the other side of the Mississippi, including in Oxford. Records kept by the state Personnel Board show that both Dunn and Austin were the direct care workers recruited in April 2017. Both stopped working for the house in May. Brittany Frederick, a spokeswoman for the board of directors, says that the reason, why the women stopped working for the board of directors are exempt from disclosure.
Acting Director Sheralyn Hibbler declined to discuss the details of the case, with reference to the research.
“We care for our veterans at all of our houses,” Hibbler said. “The care of our veterans is our top priority.”
Bratton long lived in north Mississippi Tate County, including Independence, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Memphis, Tennessee. He was a crew chief in the U. S. Army Air Force, the predecessor of the current united states air force during the second world War. Photos posted in the online historical sites say that he was known for painting pictures on the noses of bombers based on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, and elsewhere. Bratton donated copies of some of those photos, as well as a number of letters, at the University of Mississippi.
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This story has been corrected to one of the woman’s first name is spelled Jeanee, not Jeanne