An Elder Abuse Case in Colorado, Results in Plea Agreement of Harrassment

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According to an article in the Ouray County, The Watch, an elder abuse case in Colorado that lingered in county court for almost two and a half years reached partial conclusion.

Barbara Deluca, one of two co-defendants in the case, was originally charged with neglect of an at-risk victim, a Class 1 Misdemeanor. She reached a plea agreement, and the case never went to trial.

At a sentencing hearing on Feb. 6, Ouray County Judge David Westfall dismissed the charge of at-risk neglect and found Deluca guilty of a lesser charge of harassment.

Westfall sentenced Deluca to 30 days in jail with work release, one year of unsupervised probation and 150 hours of community service. As terms of her probation, Deluca was ordered to undergo an anger management evaluation and to not work with the elderly. She also faces court fines of $1,247.50.

The case dates back to Sept. 28, 2011, when a complaint was filed in Ouray County Court by District Attorney Dan Hotsenpiller, alleging that “between and including July 1, 2010 and March 2, 2011, Barbara A. Deluca unlawfully and knowingly neglected or knowingly acted in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical and mental welfare of Otsie Stowell, an at-risk adult.”

According to court documents, Stowell was in his 90s when the complaint was filed, and has since passed away. Deluca was a live-in caregiver at Stowell’s home on Log Hill at the time of the alleged abuse.

Among the witnesses listed in the original complaint were Shane Schmalz of the Ouray County Sheriff’s Office, Michael Shaver of Health and Human Services in Montrose, several personnel including a doctor from The Homestead at Montrose (an assisted living facility), and Stowell’s adult children Albert Stowell and Terressa Love.

Love was also listed as a co-defendant in the original complaint. Her case is still pending.

Ouray resident Ken McKenzie was summoned to testify by the DA at the sentencing hearing. He told The Watch that Stowell was a past master of the Ouray Masonic Lodge. The two men were friends and fellow Masons.

“I’d see bruises on him, when we were going to Olathe and Delta for meetings but he didn’t want to talk about it,” McKenzie said. “Elderly abuse has not been covered enough.”

According to Clerk of the Combined Courts Jane Holmes, the majority of the court documents associated with the case were filled with medical information that could not be released unless redacted. Much of the information contained in the court documents was argued to be hearsay and was not proven because the case didn’t go to trial.