By Joe Johnson
A former Athens caregiver recently received a 10-year sentence fo leaving an elderly woman unattended in the back seat of a car in hot weather for about two hours, according to documents recently filed in Clarke County Superior Court.
In accordance with a negotiated agreement with the district attorney’s office, 47[-year-old Tonya Terrell Grant will have to serve nine days of her sentence in jail and more than three months under house arrest.
The remainder of the sentence will be served on probation, but the probation can be terminated after three years if Grant complies with all conditions
Athens-Clarke County police arrested Grant last summer for an Aug. 4, 2018 incident in which she was supposed to take the 67-year-old victim to a park.
Grant’s job as the victim’s caretaker was to get the woman out of her house on weekends, said police.
On the day of the alleged incident, police said they received an anonymous tip that the victim was left alone in the back seat of a car in Grant’s driveway from about 9:20 a.m. to 11:20 a.m., when the temperature was in the 80s.
Officers arrived to find the victim strapped into the back seat of the car, with the windows down for ventilation, but with no air-conditioning, according to police. The woman was unable to provide her address or date of birth, police said.
When speaking with Grant at the front door of her home, police said Grant claimed she left the woman in the car for only 10 minutes while she went inside to gather some belongings so she and the victim could go to the park.
After being checked out by National EMS personnel, the victim was left in Grant’s custody so she could drive the woman to her home in Oconee County, police said.
The incident was titled “reckless conduct” in an initial police report, but authorities further investigated the matter and subsequently obtained a warrant charging Grant with felony neglect of an elder person.
A grand jury later indicted Grant on two counts of exploitation of an elder person and one count each of neglect to an elder person and trafficking an elder person.
The neglect charge was for allegedly leaving the victim with nothing to drink and the trafficking charge was for allegedly transporting the victim for pay under the false pretense she was providing care.
As part of the plea bargain, the DA’s office dismissed the trafficking, neglect and one of the exploitation charges.
Western Judicial Circuit Judge Eric Norris sentence Grant as a first offender.
He ordered her to remain under house arrest without an ankle monitor from Aug. 2 to Aug. 30, then serve nine days in jail before resuming house arrest with an ankle monitor from Sept. 8 to Nov. 24.
The judge also forbade Grant from providing care to non-family elderly people while on probation.