Brothers charged over sibling’s death

By Yang Cheng-chun, Chen Chien-chih and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Tue, Jan 03, 2017 - Page 4

Three brothers have been charged with neglect leading to the death of their 56-year-old brother, Chen Ching-yen (陳清嚴).

Chen was the second son of four and lived with his parents in Taichung after sustaining injuries in a car accident 20 years ago that hampered his ability to walk or work.

Chen was confined to bed after a fall in October 2015 and relied on others to turn him over in bed, as well as feed and wash him, the indictment said.

When Chen died on Jan. 6, 2015, he had large pressure sores on his back and legs, edema in both legs and showed signs of aspiration pneumonia, the Taichung District Prosecutors’ Office said.

The suspected cause of death was respiratory failure and septicemia, the office said.

The condition of his body suggested long periods of inactivity and that he had not been helped off the bed, or turned or washed. Such inattention likely worsened Chen’s condition until it became lethal, a prosecutor said.

Chen’s parents, who are both in their 80s, had fulfilled their obligation by feeding him, considering they had difficulty trying to take care of themselves, the office said.

His brothers, who lived next door, should have shouldered the obligation of caring for him, it said.

The prosecutors charged the brothers with involuntary manslaughter and asked for seven years to lifetime imprisonment.

Pleading not guilty, the third son said that prosecutors should not expect every family to be “perfect.”

Chen never helped out with family finances when he was working and even abused their mother on two occasions, the son said, adding that since the accident, Chen had verbally abused their parents whenever he was in a bad mood.

It was very hard for members of the family to be “close” to Chen, said the third son, adding that his job kept him busy during the day and he has a family to take care of at night.

Despite his limited time, he always brought things over, such as rice, whenever his parents told him they had run out, he said.

“If such actions are still considered negligent, I do not know what else we could have done,” he said.

Lawyer Lee Hsueh-yung (李學鏞) said the charge of involuntary manslaughter was subjective on the part of prosecutors.

If a judge were to rule by the law, the prosecutors would have no case and the brothers would be declared not guilty, he said.

However, if a judge were to rule according to the spirit of the law, it could send a warning to society on the value of moral duty, he said.