Couple goes on trial-- accused of starving parent to death - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Couple goes on trial-- accused of starving parent to death

By Chuck Weber email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX)-Did a West Boca couple starve a parent to death? Or did the husband and wife love the elderly woman and do all they could for her?

Those were the two vastly differently portrayals made by lawyers Friday in opening statements at the trial of Kerstin and Toby Fenn.

The couple is charged with first degree murder and aggravated elderly abuse, in the death of Kerstin's 89-year old mother, Elly Lorey Spieler, in 2005. The woman weighed just 60 pounds when she died. Detectives called it one of the worst cases of elderly abuse they had ever seen.

Lorey suffered from dementia-- Alzheimer's Disease, say defense lawyers. Toby's attorney, Michael Salnick, told jurors the Fenn's had promised Lorey she would not die in a nursing home.

But in her address to jurors, prosecutor Angela Miller said the Fenn's didn't take Lorey to see a doctor even once in the year she was here in Florida. She said they would lock the woman in her room. When deputies entered the room, Miller said it was in deplorable condition-- smelling of urine, with feces on the wall.

"They didn't want to help her," said Miller. "She had become an imposition. And it served their purposes for her to die sooner than later. So they sped things up."

"The evidence will show they loved Elly Lorey, and did everything they could to care for her," countered Salnick. "It would have been so much easier for Toby and Kerstin Fenn to have simply put Elly in a nursing home and go on with their lives."

Salnick said Lorey died naturally from Alzheimer's.  As he described how she suffered from the disease, Kerstin cried and covered her face.

The trial resumes next week and could last as long as three weeks.

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