FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — A Forsyth County jury acquitted a Kernersville woman Friday of charges that she neglected her 92-year-old mother to the point that her mother developed bed sores that prosecutors allege contributed to her death.
The Winston-Salem Journal reported that Nannie Ballard Kollar, 72, of South Cherry Street in Kernersville was on trial last week in Forsyth Superior Court on two felony charges — abuse of a disabled or elderly person causing serious injury and neglect of a disabled or elderly person causing serious injury.
Kernersville police arrested Kollar on April 24, 2011, the day after her mother, Mildred McGee Ballard, died.
Forsyth County prosecutors Jessica Spencer and Elisabeth Dresel argued that complications from the bed sores contributed to Ballard’s death. Kollar’s attorneys, Stacey Rubain and James Quander, disputed that and argued that Kollar had spent more than 30 years caring for her mother. They argued that there was no evidence Kollar neglected her mother.
“This was a very difficult case for (Kollar),” Rubain said Monday. “She has not had a chance to grieve for her mother’s death. She’s very relieved that the jury saw the truth and realized that this (caring for her mother) was a labor of love for her.”
Chief District Attorney Jennifer Martin said Monday that her office will continue to prosecute allegations of elder abuse. The office has set up a task force to deal specifically with elder abuse cases and works with other agencies, including the Winston-Salem Police Department, Adult Protective Services and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, she said.
“Despite the verdict, we want people to come forward and report allegations of abuse of elderly or disabled citizens,” Martin said.
Spencer said that when hospice officials found Ballard on April 22, 2011, the day before she died, she was covered in bed sores, feces and urine. On her back were chemical burns from lying in her own waste and she had to be peeled from the air mattress on which she was lying, Spencer said.
A hospice doctor testified that it was the worst case of elder abuse that she had seen in her 30 years, Spencer said. Hospice officials transported Ballard to Kate B. Reynolds Hospice Home, where she died April 23, 2011.
Kollar took the stand in her own defense and testified that she had cared for her mother for more than 30 years, Rubain said. After Kollar’s father died in 1982, Kollar spent every night with her mother in her mother’s house and moved Ballard into her house in 2000.
In December 2010, Kollar testified that she arrived home from work to find her mother sitting on the steps, Rubain said. Kollar injured her back trying to get her mother up, Rubain said. Ballard would refuse to get out of bed for several months, and Kollar would serve her food, wash her and change her, Rubain said.
Kollar testified that Ballard didn’t want to be sent to the hospital because she previously had spent time hospitalized for bipolar disorder. But as her mother’s condition worsened, Kollar allowed Ballard’s psychiatrist to make a referral for hospice, according to Rubain. Hospice officials came out to Kollar’s house on April 22, 2011.
A major dispute during the trial was the cause of death. Dr. Pat Lantz, a Forsyth County medical examiner, testified that complications from the bed sores contributed to Ballard’s death. Dr. Thomas Owens, chief medical examiner for Mecklenburg County, disagreed and said that the morphine that Ballard was given at the hospice home could have contributed to her death.
He also said that Ballard did not have any disease associated with bed sores. Rubain said Monday that bed sores can develop in any condition and are not necessarily proof that Ballard was being neglected or abused.
Spencer said Monday that Ballard had not seen a doctor in five years and when hospice officials offered medical care, Kollar refused.
Rubain said Kollar is happy that the trial is over.
“It has been a very long three years for someone who should not have had to go through this,” she said. “She is very grateful and relieved by the jury’s verdict and thankful to the jury.”