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Woman sentenced to prison for leaving ailing mother to die

on October 14, 2013 10:30 AM

LANCASTER (AP) — A south-central Pennsylvania woman will spend six to 12 years in prison for allegedly leaving her bedridden 88-year-old mother alone to die, though the defendant says it was a mercy killing.

The Lancaster Intelligencer Journal/New Era reported Janice Harmes, 67, was sentenced Thursday by a Lancaster County judge, after pleading no contest to a charge of third-degree murder.

Authorities say Harmes took Janet Bastendorf’s cellphone — her mother’s only link to the outside world — then left the woman alone without food or water for 10 days before she died on Jan. 6 of an infection.

Harmes told the judge that she and her mother “had an understanding” that the woman wanted to die at home, not in a hospital.

But the judge rejected that explanation calling it “inexcusable and reprehensible.”

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