Costa Mesa man accused of killing 80-year-old mother dies before trial is scheduled

A Costa Mesa man facing manslaughter and elder abuse charges related to the death of his 80-year-old mother has died while awaiting trial, according to his lawyer.

Prosecutors dropped two felony charges against Robert Dickerman, 49, at a Nov. 20 hearing after defense attorney Scott Heitmann informed them that Dickerman had died about three months ago.


Dickerman was a chronic alcoholic, according to Heitmann.

"I think his liver gave out," he said.

Dickerman, who was unemployed, was the sole caretaker for his ailing mother, Yoshiko Dickerman, according to police.

In July 2013, police said, officers who responded to a medical-aid call found her in a puddle of urine in the fetal position. She was dehydrated and had several open sores, according to police.

Authorities said Dickerman told officers that he had been helping his mother use the bathroom when she became combative, so he left her on the floor for two days.

She later died in a hospital of sepsis, authorities said.

After investigating, police arrested Dickerman in September 2013.

Police described the home Dickerman shared with his mother as extremely dirty and cluttered. At times, they alleged, Dickerman would tie his mother to a bed or toilet to keep her in place.

Heitmann said Dickerman's mother suffered from dementia. Dickerman had been caring for her since 2001, authorities said.

Dickerman did not know how to handle the disease, but he started caring for his mother after a nursing home kicked her out because of insurance issues, according to Heitmann.

Dickerman had pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and inflicting injury on an elder adult. He was free on $100,000 bond when he died, according to court records.

"He was not an evil man at all," Heitmann told Times Community News. "He loved his mother, and he did the best he could."

Dobruck writes for Times Community News.

Follow @JeremiahDobruck on Twitter.