The mugshot for Candy Lawson, 46. She was convicted on Monday for three counts one of which was unlawful imprisonment for keeping her disabled adult sister locked in a closet
A Michigan woman who kept her adoptive disabled adult sister locked in a closet was convicted of charges including unlawful imprisonment on Monday.
The Shiawassee County jury also found Candy Lawson, 46, guilty of vulnerable adult abuse and embezzlement because she stole social security money that was intended for her sister, Dianna Churchill, 44.
Dianna is deaf and has other cognitive and physical impairments.
She was locked in a 4×8 closet on Oliver Street in Corunna, Michigan, for seven years, given little clothing, food and water and was only given a bucket for urination.
In 2009, her disabled adoptive brother, Justin Churchill, died at the age of 33 in Kentucky.
An image of Dianna Churchill, 44, with a bump on the back of her head. She was locked in a 4×8 closet for seven years until police found her after a handyman left a tip
He had similar living conditions to Dianna and weighed 60lbs at the time of his death.
Candy has not been charged for Justin’s death, but Kentucky State Police troopers aren’t ruling out the possibility.
She got custody of her disabled siblings when their mother died ten years ago, according to ABC 12.
Candy took the stand in her own defense last week, saying the space her sister was kept in was a room, not a closet.
She also said she needed to lock her sister in at night because she would otherwise wander off and she denied restricting access to food.
The then 42 year-old, Dianna, weighed just over 70lbs at the time.
Dianna was found in July 2015 by police after a call from handyman, Robert Lamar, found her locked up when he went to do some work on the house.
He said he felt emotional and happy over the conviction.
‘Horrible really. It was disgusting how she left her sister. Someone that doesn’t care about another human’s life,’ Robert told Wnem.
Sergeant Mark Pendergaff also thought the act defied ‘all human decency’.
The closet where Dianna was kept. When police found her, she weighed a little over 70lbs and was so dirty that soap irritated her skin
The detective used to be assigned to the case and said that the easy answer was that Candy wanted the money but that in this case, the system let Dianna down with not having face to face meetings to make sure she was alive and well.
The system didn’t fail Dianna again because it took the jury less than two hours to reach the guilty verdict, according to ABC 12.
However, the defense attorney for Candy, Amy Housted, said that she was doing what she had to do.
‘When you are the sole provider, you obviously cannot give 24/7 care. And so, my client felt that it was necessary to make sure she didn’t wander,’ Amy told Wnem.
She also said that Dianna was free to go walk in the house, eat what she wanted and go outside.
But her condition was so bad as she was malnourished but she was also so dirty that soap irritated her skin when nurses tried to clean her.
Lawson is facing 13 to 15 years in prison and will be sentenced on October 27.
Amy said they plan to appeal and that she ‘really did try her best with the situation she was given’.
Dianna is now in the care of the state and is doing much better, according to Wnem.
Candy faces 13 to 15 years in prison and will be sentenced on October 27. Candy and her lawyer will be appealing