CONCOURSE — A former home health care worker who starved her autistic uncle to death was charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, the Bronx District Attorney's office said.
Naisia Norman, 22, had been responsible for taking care of her uncle James Thompson, who had severe cognitive disabilities, since late 2010, when she applied to take charge of his Supplemental Security Income, Assistant District Attorney Adam Oustatcher said.
Thompson had received about $695 a month since birth from two SSI accounts, and Norman applied to become his payee for this money in December 2010, meaning she was responsible for using it to care for him.
However, between Feb. 1, 2011 and Jan. 31, 2012, she received $8,628 from these accounts but spent just $722 of it on food, housing, medical care and other expenses for Thompson, and his health deteriorated sharply during this time, Oustatcher said.
When Thompson was doing well, he stood 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 145 pounds, but his weight steadily dropped to 129 pounds by April 2011 and 108 pounds by February 2012, which was his last doctor's appointment.
By the time he passed away in June 2012 at age 42, he weighed just 70 pounds, according to Oustatcher.
"He was half the weight—less than half the weight—as he was in December 2010," he said.
Thompson's mother had taken care of him before Norman took over, but she fell in November 2010, which marked the beginning of a sharp decline in her physical and mental health.
She is still alive but suffers from dementia and is living in a nursing home, Oustatcher said.
Norman made multiple withdrawals for hundreds of dollars from Thompson's account shortly after he died, and although she told police that she had a calendar in her phone with a schedule for when to feed him, when officers looked at this calendar, they just saw that Norman had a plan to go to Great Adventure with her friends.
"There was no record of feeding Mr. Thompson at all," Oustatcher said.
The condition of Thompson's apartment at 940 Bronx Park South was also decrepit, with the refrigerator containing only bread crumbs and frosting, the prosecutor said.
"There's garbage strewn everywhere. The sinks are overflowing. There's no food there," he said. "I don't know how anyone could have lived in that apartment."
"It appears that Mr. Thompson was left in the apartment to wither on the vine and die," he continued.
Norman, who pleaded not guilty and was released on $75,000 bail, is due back in court on Sept. 15 and did not speak during Wednesday's court proceedings apart from her plea of not guilty.
She could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.