Three women indicted in death of impaired woman in state facility

Three employees of the Brenham State Supported Living Center have been indicted on felony murder charges in the July death of a severely disabled resident of the facility.

Amy Parrish, a mentally impaired woman in her late 40s, was left in the back of a hot van parked on the center’s east Central Texas campus for several hours on July 11, The Eagle reported. She was missing for several hours; when she was eventually found, she was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead.

Charlotte Washington, Sylvia Pratt and Lacreshia Miles have been indicted in relation to the incident, according to the Washington County District Attorney’s Office. The charge — which alleges not that the women intentionally killed Parrish but that their criminal negligence led to her death — is punishable by a sentence as long as life in prison.

Pratt is set for a bond hearing on Thursday. She will be the first of the three women to appear in court.

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The incident is another black mark on a system that has long been criticized for improperly caring for its charges.

Texas' 13 state-supported living centers, formerly known as state schools, have been under scrutiny since 2009, when lawmakers agreed to a $112 million settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over extensive abuse and neglect at the taxpayer-funded facilities. For years, the state has attempted to prop up the centers and improve conditions by calling for increased per-patient funding and overhauling the oversight system for employees of the facilities.

More than 3,000 people live at the 13 centers.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Disability rights advocates encouraged state legislators to expand community-based care and in-home nursing at a state Senate hearing. They also raised questions about a new computer-based program to track care services. [Full story]

  • A recommendation from the state's Sunset Advisory Commission to shutter six of Texas' 13 state-supported living centers has reopened a giant divide in the disability community that had seemed to narrow in recent years. [Full story]

  • What's in an IQ score? For autistic or profoundly mentally ill Texans: everything. A growing number of disabled young adults are considered too high-functioning for state care services, but their families say they’re too dangerous to go without them. Admission to state-supported living centers is limited to disabled people with IQs under 70 — and community-based care is generally capped at an IQ of 75. [Full story]