Woman gets 3-15 years in body-dumping case

PORT HURON (AP) -- An Oregon woman was sentenced last Friday to serve 3 to 15 years in prison for dumping the body of her elderly mother outside a Michigan thrift store.

"I understand I need to be punished for my poor decisions that were not sensible or logical at all," Kelly Rhodes said before her sentencing in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

The 49-year-old from Salem, Ore., pleaded guilty in November to manslaughter, fourth-degree vulnerable adult abuse and removing a body without permission of a medical examiner.

The corpse of Rhodes' mother, Mary Grenia, 89, was found wrapped in blankets behind a Goodwill store near Port Huron in March.

"I love her and miss her more than I ever could imagine," Rhodes said about her mother, who died a few days after she and Rhodes were turned away while trying to enter Ontario, Canada, with a truck full of possessions.

Rhodes planned to move in with a boyfriend in Canada, the Times Herald reported.

An autopsy showed no signs of trauma, but medical examiner Daniel Spitz said Grenia's poor health could have been worsened by neglect. She died in the truck.

Rhodes could have called her brother or put her mother in a home if she was unable to care for her, Judge Cynthia Lane said.

Instead, the judge said, "She didn't make the right choices."

Defense lawyer Sharon Parrish said Rhodes took her mother out of a nursing home three years ago at her request. Rhodes was stressed out from caring for her and was looking for support from a former boyfriend after her husband died, Parrish said.

Senior assistant prosecutor Mona Armstrong said Rhodes made choices that were shocking and cold.

"The bottom line is: (Grenia) was not provided that simple dignity she was entitled to at her age and after raising this particular defendant," Armstrong said.

Published: Tue, Jan 7, 2014