There is insufficient evidence to charge Casey Kasem’s wife with elder abuse or neglect in connection with the death of the famous disc jockey, the Los Angeles County district attorney said Friday.
Kasem died last year after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. He died as his children and wife of 30 years, Jean, battled for control of his medical treatment and life.
Kasem’s children from his first marriage had accused his wife of neglecting and abusing their father.
But Deputy Dist. Atty. Belle M. Chen concluded that Jean Kasem had made “continuous efforts to ensure that Mr. Kasem was medically supervised."
The prosecutor noted that Casey Kasem had long-standing health issues that made it impossible to prove neglect or abuse played a role in his death. To be criminally negligent, the prosecutor noted, there needs to be evidence of more than ordinary carelessness or inattention.
In a memo, the prosecutor set out Kasem's lengthy struggles during the last year and a half of his life. By 2013, Kasem was confined to a wheelchair, did not speak much and needed full-time care. Tensions between his wife and children worsened when, according to his daughters Kerri and Julie, they were unable to visit him in the summer of 2013.
From December of 2013 to May of last year, Kasem was in the Berkeley East Convalescent Hospital until Jean Kasem removed him because of what she said were privacy concerns.
Jean Kasem took him home and hired a registered nurse and a care giver, according to the prosecutor’s memo. On May 7, Kasem’s daughter Kerri sought temporary conservatorship of her father. But Jean Kasem on May 10 drove him with a nurse to Las Vegas in a two-SUV convoy.
The registered nurse left Las Vegas but noticed a bedsore Kasem had gotten at the hospital had ruptured. On May 11, Jean Kasem along with medical professionals used an air ambulance to move her husband to Silverdale, Wash., according to the memo.
The prosecutor noted that Kasem saw doctors and nurses regularly in Silverdale. Kerri Kasem on May 12, however, was awarded temporary conservatorship of her father and two days later filed a missing person’s report with the Santa Monica police.
Kasem continued to decline. On May 15, a nurse noted that his bedsore had worsened. A week later, Jean Kasem was served with legal papers informing her that Kerri Kasem was now responsible for her father’s healthcare and life.
When Kerri saw her father on June 1 of last year, he looked so weak that she immediately had him admitted to a hospital, where doctors found a serious bedsore and a urinary tract infection, according to the memo. Two days later he developed sepsis.
Doctors recommended withholding hydration and artificial nutrition because it would prolong the dying process and his daughter followed that advice. Kasem’s wife unsuccessfully challenged that decision and a judge ordered his daughter to remain Kasem’s temporary conservator.
When Kasem died on June 15, his wife sent his body to a private pathologist, who later told authorities he died of natural causes. The coroner never completed an autopsy.
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