Opinions

Ione Johnson | Where is the justice and humanity?

Where is the justice and humanity?
 
An 87-year-old woman in failing health, being cared for by her son, Jon Staebler, died recently. Her death was ruled a homicide by Dr. Strobl. Staebler was originally charged with felony, intentionally subjecting an individual at risk to abuse, causing death. However, this charge was later changed to what the newspaper stated as a “somewhat reduced charge” of no contest to felony, negligently subjecting an individual at risk to abuse, causing death. Staebler was then sentenced nine months in the local Polk County Jail and will get out in September or earlier. Staebler also has the privilege to leave jail every day on a work release.
 
Staebler’s 87-year-old mother lay on the floor of her bathroom for almost two months. She was cold, covered in her own urine and feces and had numerous bedsores. Fabric and paper towels were literally stuck to her skin. Due to her lack of care and hygiene she also had E. coli bacteria. She was not being fed.
 
While his mother lay helpless and cold and hungry and filthy, Staebler did not call her friends or neighbors for help, he did not pick her up and put her in bed, he did not feed her, wash her or care for her in any way.
 
Staebler could not be bothered to call an ambulance, even though he thought she had a stroke, or to call for any medical advice from anyone. He did not call 911 until she died. He walked out the door and left her all alone for days and/or weeks at a time.
 
Once charged in court, Staebler left the state in spite of a $25,000 bond and was caught in Hennepin County, Minnesota, and was returned to Polk County. His bond was reduced to $10,000 and he was allowed to take this so-called “somewhat reduced charge” of no contest to felony, mentioned above, with the work release privileges. Work release? Why?
 
That actually reduces the time spent in person in the county jail to approximately 4-1/2 months or even less if he gets out early. His mother was suffering for more than half that time, maybe longer.
The stated reason for accepting this plea, per Judge Tolan, was to “avoid a trial.” Staebler caused great suffering to his mother, most likely for more than the six weeks she lay on that floor. Her abuse didn’t start with her time on that floor.
 
Where is the justice or humanity for this woman who lived for 87 years and then died lying in her own feces and urine, cold, in pain and starving? Where is the reasoning when Staebler was allowed to plead down? This trial the court was trying to avoid … why would they avoid a trial for this man? For nine months Staebler will be given a warm bed and three hot meals every day, something he denied his own mother.
 
Ione Johnson
Frederic


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