CORUNNA, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – A Michigan woman who authorities say kept her disabled adult sister locked in a closet has been convicted of charges including unlawful imprisonment.
A Shiawassee County jury on Monday also found Candy Lawson guilty of vulnerable adult abuse and embezzlement. Prosecutors say she stole Social Security disability benefits that were intended for her sister. Lawson faces prison time when sentenced Oct. 27.
Authorities said Lawson’s sister was in the closet for six or seven years with little food, water or clothing and only a bucket to use as a bathroom — until a construction worker found her in 2015, suffering from malnourishment and dehydration.
Police said the 42-year-old — who has “cognitive and physical impairments” — was hospitalized for about a week before being placed in protective custody.
Lawson took the stand in her own defense last week, saying the space her sister was kept in was a room, not a closet at her home in Corunna, 65 miles northwest of Detroit. She said she needed to lock her sister in at night because she would otherwise wander off and denied restricting access to food.
A former Kentucky State Police detective testified on Sept. 15 that his department investigated Lawson in the 2009 malnutrition death of her disabled brother, 37-year-old Christopher Justin Churchill, but she was not charged.
Lawson’s lawyer plans an appeal in the Michigan case.
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