An Augusta couple facing murder charges in the death of a severely disabled relative pleaded guilty today to reduced charges.
Jeanne Peterson and Buel Peterson were sentenced this afternoon in Richmond County Superior Court to neglect of a disabled adult. Mrs. Peterson also pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.
Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet sentenced Mr. Peterson to three years probation. He sentenced Mrs. Peterson to seven years in prison followed by three years probation.
The Petersons had faced murder charges in the death of Mrs. Peterson's niece, Christina Baxter.
Ms. Baxter died Oct. 21, 2007, weighing just 66 pounds. She was 30 years old, confined to a wheelchair, unable to hear or speak.
Ms. Baxter, who was blind, deaf, mute and physically unable to stand or use her arms, had been found dead by the Petersons inside the home. The victim, who was 5 feet tall and weighed just 46 pounds, was malnourished, according to police at the scene.
Initially, Ms. Peterson would not allow EMT personnel to enter the home and instead carried the victim to the front yard, where they attempted to resuscitate her.
Inside the home, authorities found feces covering the floors and walls. A Chronicle reporter witnessed hundreds of cockroaches crawling from behind the walls and ceiling. Two unused boxes of soap and a tabloid newspaper were in the bathroom, where everything else was covered with a fine film of dirt, dead insects and feces. Toward the front of the home, a 200-pound pig lived in piles of its own excrement and shredded newspapers.
Authorities told The Chronicle Ms. Baxter had been under the couple's care since her mother died about three years ago.