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Woman guilty in neglect case

August 08, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

A Hagerstown woman was convicted Friday of neglect of a vulnerable adult in the death of a woman whose mummified remains were found in 1996 in her room at the Dagmar Hotel.

The defendant, May Elizabeth Smith, was a private contractor employed through the Washington County Department of Social Services for the care of Anna Turner, 85.

Smith testified that she hadn't visited the Turner or provided care for more than a month before the woman's body was found on May 15, 1996.

The Washington County Circuit Court jury found Smith not guilty of reckless endangerment, the only other charge. Jurors deliberated just over two hours before returning with their verdict.

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Smith, 53, of 3 W. North Ave., was allowed to remain free on personal recognizance pending completion of a pre-sentence investigation requested by the prosecution after the two-day trial.

"I was contracted to take care of her in 1991, doing laundry, shopping, cleaning ... I washed her back and soaked her feet," Smith testified Friday.

Smith said that in March and April of 1996 she contracted bronchitis and sinusitis and was not feeling well, taking time off from her other job as a health service aide with the Department of Social Services.

Smith testified she stopped going to visit Turner at that time. She testified that she lied to Hagerstown City Police when she told them she saw and talked to Turner on May 6, 1996, through an opening in her door at the Dagmar.

The hotel's maintenance man and the head of housekeeping found the woman's body on May 15, 1996.

A Maryland deputy medical examiner, Dr. Stephen Radentz, testified Anna Turner's body weighed 66 pounds and her hands, feet and face were mummified.

"I estimate that she had been dead two to three weeks when she was found," Radentz said.

Smith's contract showed she was to supervise Turner's medication twice a day, seven days a week for payment of $100 a month.

Later she was was further contracted to provide a hot meal once a day, run errands and drive Turner to the doctor, for an additional $100 a month, according to testimony.

Smith could face up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine or both.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Mark Wolfe handled the prosecution while Daniel Mahone presented the defense for Smith.

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