Disabled man neglected 'to point of death,' court hears

Jerry Hawley is charged with first-degree murder in the 2008 death of his brother, Jamie, 41.

Credits: Darcy Cheek/QMI Agency

Nick Gardiner | QMI Agency

BROCKVILLE, ON — The trial began Wednesday for a Prescott, ON, man accused of murdering his mentally disabled brother by neglecting him and slowly starving him to death.

Jamie Hawley, 41, suffered a brain injury as a three-month old that left him with the mental capacity of a six-year-old and confined to a wheelchair with only slight mobility on his right side.

When he died May 26, 2008, Jamie weighed only 57 lbs., three more pounds than he weighed at the age of 10, the Crown said it its opening statement.

Jerry Hawley, who was taking care of Jamie, is charged with second-degree murder.

Jamie's 40th birthday provided stark evidence of the slow starvation he was subjected to as a ward of Jerry, the jury heard.

Crown Attorney Claudette Breault said Jamie had a rare chance to come downstairs for the party when couple visiting the home insisted he join them for a meal of hamburgers, hotdogs and French fries.

She said the visiting couple will testify Jamie wolfed down four to six hamburgers in short order, stopping only when he had a choking spell that was relieved when Jerry applied the Heimlich manoeuvre.

“Evidence will show what Jerry Hawley did was mistreat his brother and watch him die,” Breault told the jury.

Breault said Jerry Hawley did not kill his brother overtly with a gun or by drowning, but chose instead to withhold the necessities of life — food, protection from harm and medical care — with the knowledge Jamie would die as a result.

“He wanted to cause bodily harm, knowing it would lead to death,” she said.

Breault said other witnesses will testify Jerry routinely denied Jamie food, ignored his failing health and didn't respond to calls for assistance.

Once, after putting Jamie in a bath, Jerry returned downstairs to visit with friends and would not respond to his brother's cries for help after being left in the water for an hour, she said.

When one visitor said Jamie must be getting cold, Jerry replied: “Mind your own business,” said Breault.

She said the Jamie's immune system was so weak, he could not fight infection from the 33 open bedsores discovered on his body during an autopsy in Toronto two days after his death.

The post-mortem revealed Jamie died of pneumonia brought on by the infections as a result of starvation.

The trial is expected to last two months.

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