Granddaughter sentenced after elderly woman found dead in 'horrid conditions'

Joleslie Looney (Source: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office)
Joleslie Looney (Source: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The granddaughter of a woman who was found dead in "horrid conditions" was sentenced Friday, April 20.

Lauren Looney, 21, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide as part of plea deal on March 7, and on Friday, was sentenced to five years in prison with credit for time served. She was originally charged with manslaughter.

Joleslie Looney, 56, the daughter of the elderly woman, will be sentenced on Thursday, May 31. The sentencing was originally scheduled for Tuesday, April 10 and was continued on defense motion.

Joleslie was found guilty by a jury of manslaughter. Judge Mike Erwin presided over the trial and will set her sentence.

Bessie Looney, 82, was found dead in September of 2014 in what investigators described as "horrid conditions." East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. William Clark said Bessie Looney died from a blood infection caused by untreated bed sores.

During the trial, Clark said the autopsy revealed the victim was malnourished and considered emaciated, weighing only 82 pounds with a body mass index of 13.6. It was revealed in court the victim suffered from several illnesses, including vascular dementia, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure.

Clark testified that toxicology results tested negative for any drugs in the victim's system, indicating she wasn't being treated and he said she was also dehydrated.

Clark ruled Looney's death as a homicide, saying the cause of death was septic shock due to infected pressure sores.


Clark said pressure sores form when someone is immobile and in the same position for long periods of time. The condition is treatable if caught in time. He said if the victim had been treated by a physician, she could have possibly lived.

The defense called two witnesses to testify on behalf of Joleslie Looney. Both witnesses stated they had known the defendant for several years, describing her as someone who cared deeply for her mother.

One witness testified that her close friendship with the defendant formed when both were employees for the City of Baton Rouge. The witnesses testified that Looney, at the time, was a "loyal employee," and single mother who was just a "regular, ordinary person trying to make a life for her child."

The second witness stated she knew the elderly victim as well as the defendant. She said the last time she saw the victim, around March of 2014, she was using a walker and seemed a little weak, but was coherent.

Both witnesses said the defendant was dealing with a lot of stress from work and would enter a state of depression when she took on a task she couldn't handle. When asked by the state why the defendant might not have asked for help to care for her ailing mother, one witness stated she "had a problem asking for help."

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