Two face charges in Marrowstone Island woman’s death

PORT TOWNSEND — Two local residents face arraignment Friday on first-degree manslaughter and first-degree theft charges after the death of a 77-year-old woman for whom the accused were working as caregivers.

The arraignment of Richard M. Huber, 56, and Betty June Haley, 70, is set for 8:30 a.m. in Jefferson County Superior Court at 1820 Jefferson St.

Huber and Haley were arrested Aug. 9 in Port Townsend. They are accused of neglecting Huber’s mother, Kathleen Johnson of Marrowstone Island, and contributing to her death April 18.

They also are accused of taking money from Johnson.

The two have posted the $10,000 bail set by Superior Court Judge Keith Harper on Monday.

Jefferson County Deputy Prosecutor Chris Ashcraft said Wednesday that he may file additional charges at the arraignment.

First-degree manslaughter carries a sentence of 6½ years to 8½ years, according to Ashcraft.

According to a probable-cause statement filed with the court, Huber and Haley had moved in with Johnson in October 2012 following the death of her husband, Ray Johnson.

On April 14, Huber brought Johnson into the emergency room at Jefferson Healthcare hospital.

Hospital personnel contacted the Jefferson County sheriff, saying Johnson wore soiled clothing, her hair was matted and her knees stained with dried blood.

She was in pain and unable to communicate, the report said.

The next day, the Sheriff’s Office learned that Johnson was severely dehydrated and in renal failure, with a fractured kneecap and multiorgan failure, the report said. On April 18, she died.

According to the statement, Huber told investigators that it had been difficult for him to care for Johnson and that he was “too tired to change her diaper” the night before and had planned to do it that morning.

At the time, Huber told deputies he had last washed Johnson on April 11 and changed her diaper April 12, two days before.

During a subsequent investigation, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Detective Barb Garrett said she found that Huber had removed $20,000 from Johnson’s bank accounts shortly after Ray Johnson died.

Garrett said Kathleen Johnson had suffered “a rapid decline into dementia” after her husband died and that Haley, who would “push and yell at” Johnson, was executing control over Huber.

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

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