State rests in neglect case
by Scott Harper
state’s case against Charles “Wesley” Lawrimore concluded Thursday with
testimony about someone who went from being a beauty queen to an 85-pound
“severely neglected” woman who died after becoming infected by her own human
Lawrimore was arrested on July 7, 2005, three days after his 85-year-old mother, Jannette — a former Miss Georgetown — died on the couch of the Kensington home she shared with her son. He had been her primary caregiver since 2003.
The state has charged Lawrimore with neglect of a vulnerable adult resulting in death. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
According to testimony on Wednesday, when investigators arrived at the home they found Mrs. Lawrimore’s body, and most of the house covered with human waste.
Investigator Tom Digsby, formerly with the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office, testified Mrs. Lawrimore “looked like a skeleton” when he saw her hours after her death.
On Thursday, Bryan called David Cyr, owner of the Prescription Shoppe, who said that between January and July of 2005 he filled 16 prescriptions for Oxycodone with Tylenol for Mrs. Lawrimore but they were all picked up by her son.
Later in the day, Dr. Kim Collins, a forensic pathologist at the Medical University of South Carolina, testified many of the sores she observed on Mrs. Lawrimore during the autopsy were very painful before she died.
Bryan asked Collins if she was aware Mrs. Lawrimore was not being given her pain medication, to which she said “yes.”
“It’s the responsibility of the caregiver to administer medications. Just because someone may have dementia does not mean they do not feel pain,” Collins said.
She said at the time of death, Mrs. Lawrimore weighed 85 pounds. In 2002, she weighed 178 pounds, according to Bryan.
Collins said the cause of Mrs. Lawrimore’s death was blood infection caused by the colonization of fecal material which spread into her blood stream.
Concerned about her appearance
Rutha Camlin, who ran a beauty shop for 37 years, testified Mrs. Lawrimore — who won the title “Miss Georgetown” in the 1940s — was one of her most faithful customers.
“She came in once a week. She loved to have her hair fixed. She had a standing appointment,” Camlin testified.
She said Wesley Lawrimore only went into the shop once while his mother was getting her hair done. That visit, which was sometime in 2004, stood out because of an unusual conversation he had with his mother.
Mrs. Lawrimore said they had to hurry up and get to the bank. When Camlin asked why, Mrs. Lawrimore said they had just learned they had a CD at Carolina First Bank that was worth $65,000. She said Wesley was “very nervous” and did not want his mother sharing that information with Camlin.
Camlin said that was the last time she saw Mrs. Lawrimore.
“I would call her house and all I got was a message. I never got to talk to her or Wesley,” she said.
A hard life
It’s unknown if Lawrimore will take the stand and testify during the trial. Since it began, he has kept the same pose almost the entire time.
He sits at the defendant’s table with his head down. Sometimes he is fidgeting with his hands. Other times he appears to be taking notes. He has made very little eye contact with the jurors or any of the witnesses.
That, however, is not uncommon. Those who have known Lawrimore through the years told The Times after his arrest he is quiet and reserved, and rarely spoke. They said he only held a few part-time jobs.
In interviews with former editor Jesse Tullos of The Times, some who knew Lawrimore said he had “patterns of alcohol and drug abuse” at times during his life.
The death of his mother was not the first tragedy Lawrimore has had to endure.
In 2003, his father Charles — a former Georgetown County treasurer died. In 1984, his half-brother committed suicide.
The trial will resume at 8:30 a.m. today and the defense is expected to call a doctor as its first witness. Lawrimore’s attorney, Stuart Axelrod, told Circuit Court Judge R. Knox McMahon that witness could take most of the day.
He told the judge he may also call other doctors and some of Lawrimore’s family to the stand.
Axelrod has said several times he wants to call one family member in particular, Glen Wilson.
Bryan told the judge he objected because he doesn’t see anything relevant Wilson could add to the case. If he is called to testify, there is likely to be a hearing outside the presence of the jury for the judge to decide if he can take the stand.
McMahon wanted to hold court on Saturday in order to expedite the trial but because of previous commitments of some jury members, the case will likely conclude on Monday.
By Kelly Marshall Fuller
The Sun News
Prosecutors tried Wednesday to convince jurors that neglect, not a desire to die at home without medical treatment, was the reason for a Kensington woman's death nearly two years ago.
Janette Lawrimore's doctor testified Wednesday that she didn't have the capacity to make a decision about her medical treatment.
The trial began this week for Lawrimore's son, Charles Wesley Lawrimore, 47, who is charged with neglect of a vulnerable adult resulting in death.
Dr. Richard Camlin, a a former student of Janette Lawrimore who treated her in the years before her death, testified she had dementia and could not make a decision to deny medical treatment.
"Did anybody tell you she wanted to die?" Deputy 15th Circuit Solicitor Robert Bryant asked.
Camlin said, "No."
Charles Wesley Lawrimore, who is represented by attorney Stuart Axelrod, looked down and showed no emotion as Camlin testified.
Janette Lawrimore visited Camlin's office a number of times in the years before her death, according to testimony.
Some of her complaints involved arthritis pains, swollen knees and problems with sores and ulcers on her legs.
At one point, Lawrimore was told by another doctor that she could have an amputation below the knee to relieve some of her pain.
She chose to take more antibiotics, Camlin said.
He said Lawrimore did not return to the doctor's office after 2004.
During her last visit, she was in a wheelchair and was unable to drive herself for medical treatment.
Visits from Home Health Care nurses were refused, Camlin said.
At one point, Lawrimore yelled to the nurses that she couldn't walk, so she couldn't open the door.
Later visits were refused by her son, according to medical records.
"Home Health Care stopped seeing her because she couldn't get to the door," Bryant said.
Axelrod elicited testimony that showed Janette Lawrimore was diagnosed with "failure to thrive," which meant her organs were failing and she was losing weight.
Camlin said it meant that she was dying.
He prescribed pain medication to keep her comfortable, he said.
Bryant questioned Camlin about why Lawrimore was found in unsanitary conditions on July 4, 2005.
The official cause of death was sepsis, which is a serious infection that enters the blood stream.
When asked by Bryant, "Would lying in your own excrement cause sepsis?" Camlin responded "Yes."
Janette Lawrimore was found dead in her home July 4, 2005.
Charles Wesley Lawrimore told investigators he woke up around noon that day and found that his mother was not breathing.
Police said their suspicions were raised after investigators viewed the condition of Janette's Lawrimore's body.
Other family members told investigators that Charles Wesley Lawrimore had not allowed them to see his mother for more than a year.
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