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March 26, 2013

Family protests placing elderly woman in assisted living

“Justice! We want justice! Free our grandmother! We want to take care of her!”

About 16 protesters outside the Whitfield County Courthouse Monday afternoon shouted and held signs to call attention to what they said was an unfair decision that resulted in an elderly family member being moved against her will into an assisted living facility.

Pam Akins said her mother-in-law, who is an Alzheimer’s patient, and the mother-in-law’s husband had lived with her and her husband, Marty, since October in their Dalton home. The Akins said caregivers sat with the older couple during the day when family members weren’t at home to watch them. Then other family members decided the woman would be better off in a nursing home, Akins said.

According to Akins, Probate Judge Sheri Blevins granted rights to those family members who have since placed the woman in professional care. That decision is under appeal.

Robert McCurry, an attorney for those family members, Greg and Rhonda Epperson, said guardianship and the best interest of the woman — not necessarily where she would live — was considered when Blevins rendered a decision March 1 after several hours of testimony.

“The court heard from numerous witnesses, including a licensed neurologist (who) determined it was in (the woman’s) best interest that my client be named the guardian,” McCurry said.

Blevins declined comment because of state laws that prohibit the release of information about guardianship cases.

“On pending cases, and unfortunately in this particular case, those records are sealed, and I’m not allowed to give any information at all,” Blevins said. “Hopefully an order will be coming out soon.”

The woman’s sister, Joann Parker, said the woman, although an Alzheimer’s patient, could still carry on a conversation, enjoyed working outside and did many things for herself.

Marcus Morris and Jeff Dean, the attorneys for the woman's husband, didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment on Monday afternoon.

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