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Elder abuse suspect arrives at court in dead grandmother's stolen car

June 18th, 2014 3:00 pm by Rain Smith

Elder abuse suspect arrives at court in dead grandmother's stolen car

Kayla Watson

A Sullivan County woman facing charges of elder abuse against her grandmother — who was hospitalized and later died — has been arrested again after reportedly arriving to court in the victim's stolen car.

Kayla Watson, 26, was charged with possession of stolen property in the Tuesday incident, as was her husband, Derick Watson, 30. According to records at the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office, at approximately 9:50 a.m. police were alerted to the Lincoln Town Car in the parking lot of the Courthouse in Bristol, Tenn., 801 Anderson St.

The Watsons were later located in the building, where Kayla was scheduled for arraignment in the elder abuse case against her grandmother. They both allegedly admitted to arriving in the Lincoln and were arrested.

An SCSO police report states a subsequent search of the car located several items of drug paraphernalia. An investigation into those discoveries is continuing with additional charges pending.

The vehicle was originally reported stolen on April 8, shortly after the death of Deloris Shaffer, 75. According to police records, a family member reported Shaffer's car missing from her home,1704 Paperville Road, Bristol, Tenn., and named the Watsons as suspects.

As previously reported by the Times-News, the Watsons began staying at Shaffer's residence earlier in the year. SCSO Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart says the arrangement was under the premise that Shaffer's granddaughter, Kayla Watson, would provide her with essential care.

But on March 15 the Sheriff's Office was contacted by concerned members of Shaffer's family, after a relative transported the victim for a visit to a medical clinic.

An affidavit filed in Sullivan County General Sessions Court in Bristol says Shaffer was then admitted into the hospital. She was diagnosed with dehydration, malnutrition and pneumonia, and placed on a ventilator. She later died.

Police report Kayla Watson's lack to provide her grandmother with adequate care spurred her poor condition and admittance to the hospital. Those factors prompted charges of willful abuse, neglect or exploitation of an adult against Kayla, with her arrest occurring April 2.

Court records cite numerous incidents that reportedly merited the placement of charges against her, with each recorded on a video camera. Public records do not state who placed the video camera, nor why they chose to do so.

On March 9, according to the affidavit, "Watson allowed Ms. Shaffer to fall out of bed." The incident occurred at 12:29 p.m., with Watson not returning to check on her grandmother until 4:50 p.m.

Upon noticing the victim in the floor, Watson allegedly allowed her to lie there an additional 15 minutes. At that point Watson's husband, Derick Watson, 30, appeared on the video to place her back in bed.

An SCSO detective reports that the next morning, at 3:59 a.m., the video shows Shaffer, "bent over and half way out of the bed with no blanket." She reportedly didn't move until 10:19 a.m., with approximately 25 additional minutes passing before Watson ever checked on her. That left Shaffer unattended with no check on her welfare for approximately six hours and 45 minutes.

Police also note that over those two days, Shaffer went 22 consecutive hours with no one providing her food.

Following the Watsons' Tuesday arrest for possession of stolen property of more than $1,000, they were booked into the Sullivan County jail. Later in the evening they were released on $1,000 bond each. Jail records list Kayla Watson's address as her deceased grandmother's residence on Paperville Road, while Derick Watson is listed as homeless.

According to Sullivan County Assistant District Attorney Amy Hinkle, Kayla Watson arrived to her Tuesday arraignment on the elder abuse charge without an attorney. She was appointed a public defender and waived her preliminary hearing.

Hinkle says the case will now be presented to a grand jury, while the investigation into Shaffer's death is still open. Any additional findings will be presented to the grand jury for consideration of additional charges.

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