A single black-eyed pea.
That was the contents of Paul Cox’s stomach when he was autopsied.
Cox died from malnutrition while in the care of his nephew John Lowe in 2010.
On Friday, Lowe entered a no contest plea to criminally negligent homicide and gross neglect of an impaired adult. Despite Lowe pleading no contest to the charges Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton ruled he was guilty of the crimes.
During the emotional hearing on Friday, Assistant District Attorney General Scarlett Ellis recounted the state authorities found Cox in. He was dead, emaciated and dirty. Reading from the 2010 autopsy report, Ellis told the judge Cox, who was elderly, weighed only 87 pounds at the time of his death. The pathologist deemed him “extremely unkempt” and noted his body was riddled with bedsores.
Cox had lived with Lowe and his family for over 40 years, according to a statement Lowe provided to police shortly after his arrest.
However, it had just been the two of them in the house since 2000. Since that time, Lowe had acted as his uncle’s caregiver. Within the written statement Lowe said his uncle had been bedridden for a year but he continued to care for him. This included taking Cox to the bathroom, taking a television into his bedroom to watch and providing him with two meals a day.
However, Ellis asserted that taking food into the room wasn’t enough. “He never fed Paul,” she said. When confronted with this following his arrest, Lowe told authorities, the dog that lived in the home “must have been eating the food.”
During the hearing Ellis read the autopsy results detailing Cox’s death. Details that included his stomach contents were a lone black-eyed pea. When she entered the photos of Cox’s skeletal like body into the court record, family members present began to weep. As Ellis told the judge about the numerous bedsores Cox had, those same family members cried openly.
“Do you contest this evidence?” Sexton asked Lowe.
“He could,” said Dale Potter, Lowe’s public defender.
Sexton repeated his question receiving a no from Potter.
With that Sexton told Lowe, who had remained unemotional throughout the hearing, he would spend the next 15 years in jail.
Lowe was given three years for the criminally negligent homicide charge and 15 years for the gross neglect of an impaired adult. While he was sentenced as a career offender, Potter quickly interjected Lowe didn’t have a criminal record, this was simply a stipulation of the plea.
Sexton said he would note the plea “was negotiated outside the range of punishment.”