A radio broadcaster accused of involuntary manslaughter in the death of her bedridden mother was placed on four years' probation Wednesday after pleading no contest to abusing the elderly.
San Fernando Superior Court Judge John H. Major ordered Cynthia Jeter Green, 39, to perform 300 hours of community service and pay a $500 fine.
"I am confident that this defendant will be successful if granted probation," Major said of Green, who hurriedly left the courtroom after the sentence was imposed.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Lee Harris did not object to the sentence. He said he hopes that through counseling Green will understand "whatever it was that motivated her and didn't motivate her in the care of her mother."
Arrested Dec. 27
Green, who has worked at several radio stations in the Los Angeles area, was arrested at her North Hollywood home Dec. 27 after calling paramedics to report that her 77-year-old mother had suffered a stroke.
Virginia Jeter was rushed to Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Panorama City, where she died. Authorities said she weighed just 70 pounds and was covered with feces when she was found. Maggots were crawling from her mouth.
A coroner's report said the cause of death was atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. The district attorney's office accepted a negotiated disposition of the case, which allowed Green to plead no contest to one of two counts against her. The involuntary manslaughter charge was dropped.
Medical reports stated that neglect hastened Jeter's death. She had bedsores and was dehydrated, authorities said.
A probation report submitted to Major shows that Green's state of mind had deteriorated by the time of her mother's death, as she tried to care for the victim of infirmity and Alzheimer's disease. Jeter fought Green's attempts to clean her, even refusing to let Green touch her, the report said.
Green said doctors advised her to place Jeter in a nursing home, but Green felt bound by an oft-repeated promise to Jeter that she would not put her in such a home, the report said.
The stress of caring for Jeter first caused Green to lose her job at KMNY radio, which specializes in financial news, and then to lose perspective on what was happening in her home as she became obsessed with the around-the-clock care of an invalid, said Deputy Public Defender Marc A. Hentell, her attorney.
"She was definitely impaired," he said. "Physically and mentally, she was totally debilitated."
Asked whether his client had suffered a mental breakdown, as one police officer had speculated in the probation report, Hentell said, "She was strained to the limit. I don't believe she was rationally assessing the situation."
In the month before her mother's death, Hentell said, the conditions of both women plummeted.
Detective Michael Coffey of the Los Angeles Police Department was quoted in the probation report as saying that Jeter had received no care for several weeks before her death.
But Hentell said Green tried to care for her mother until the end. The only food she could get Jeter to eat was a liquid protein supplement, which she gave her three times a day, he said. When Jeter was admitted to Kaiser Permanente, a social worker wrote that Green's mental health "appears impaired and she is in need of crisis counseling."
The probation report said Green realizes now that she should have broken her promise and placed her mother in a nursing home. Through counseling Green has recovered from her mental problems, Hentell said.
Praising Green as a "good researcher, a good reporter, good on-air person and all-around professional," KMNY rehired her in January to work part time. The station refused to answer any questions about her Wednesday, or to confirm whether she still works there.
Since Green's arrest, many people with relatives suffering from Alzheimer's disease have called to express sympathy for Green, Hentell said.