Elderly woman weighed 58 pounds after neglect, prosecutor says

SEATTLE -- A man who was previously warned not to leave his elderly mother on her own without care has been charged in her death.

King County prosecutors say Lester L. Kunimoto didn't care for his 89-year-old mother, who was found dead in her home in 2011.

Kunimoto,57, has been charged with criminal mistreatment, for being reckless and holding out on the basic necessities that would have saved her life.

According to charging papers, Kunimoto hadn't taken his mother, Lily, to the doctor in over two years. She was diagnosed with dementia and needed 24-hour care.

She was found dead inside her home on Oct. 29, 2011. Kunimoto called 911, and told police he hadn't seen her in about 24 hours, although he was her sole guardian.

Further investigation showed Kunimoto had a deep distrust in the local system. He called the Department of Social and Health Services "loan sharks" and believed they would take his mother's house away if he applied for Medicare.

Two years before her death, Adult Protective Services documented issues with the elderly woman's care and questioned Kunimoto's behavior as her guardian. In 2002, after his mother broke her hip and was found to have severe ulcers, Kunimoto allegedly admitted to bathing her once in five months, and forcing her to sleep on an air mattress.

When medical staff tried to follow up on her care, Kunimoto told them she switched providers. In a letter to the court, Kunimoto says he used his mother's social security checks to pay their expenses, and made some money by "mowing lawns and selling items on Craigslist."

At the time of her death, the 89-year-old woman weighed only 58 pounds. Kunimoto has been charged with second-degree criminal mistreatment. He has not been jailed in this case.