West Seattle sons charged with neglect in father’s care

Prosecutors say two West Seattle brothers failed to take care of their elderly father in an Alki home, allegedly allowing his health to deteriorate beyond repair so they could save the money he amassed in life for themselves, instead of spending it on his medical care.

As a result, Ken Shaw, 57, and Keith Shaw, 54, were charged with criminal mistreatment in the second degree on Nov. 9.

Court documents in the case lay out a case of neglect from 2010, alleging the Shaw brothers let their 86-year-old father, Kyle Shaw Jr., live in excruciating pain instead of seeking medical care or placing him or his wife, Ruth, in nursing homes. When an ambulance was finally called to the home on Nov. 10, 2010 because the elder Shaw “was suffering from an altered level of consciousness,” according to one of the sons, paramedics found Kyle in bad shape.

The smell of urine and feces emanated from his room, and Kyle was found with blood-soaked socks that had grown into his feet. As the paramedic attempted to move him, a trail of blood was left by his feet and he screamed in pain as they slowly moved him out to the ambulance.

Kyle told the paramedics, “Get me out of here.”

He was transported to Swedish Hospital where physicians said his feet were rotting with bleeding ulcers on his heels, a leg abrasion covered his leg with blackish dead tissue, and he was diagnosed with dehydration, blood infection, acute renal failure, acute hyperglycemia, and altered mental status. Kyle was discharged from the hospital 12 days later and taken to Life Care Center of West Seattle, where he died on Nov. 26, 2010. He weighed 108 pounds, forty pounds less than his last doctor’s appointment in 2008.

According to court documents, the brothers lived expense-free in their parents’ home and claimed their father did not want to see a doctor. According to the Seattle Police detective assigned to the case, medical records show Kyle visited his doctor ten times from 2005 to 2008, then stopped around the time his sons said he started showing signs of dementia.

After Kyle was taken to the hospital, police executed a search warrant on his house. A third family member told investigators he talked to the brothers about placing their parents in assisted living, but “Ken had said he did not think it was necessary.”

In a Nov. 18, 2010 interview, Keith is quoted by Adult Protective Service investigators as saying, “Why should we clean out the accounts (spending money on his parents’ care)… I don’t have any retirement and Ken’s never worked … If we spend all the money on nursing homes he’ll (Ken) end up homeless, living under the viaduct.”

The investigator pressed the brothers on who was responsible for their father’s care, including bathing and changing clothes. Keith said that Ken was responsible, according to charging documents. When asked about their father’s wounds, including pressure ulcers, Ken told investigators he was familiar with elderly skin issues, and that the development of those ulcers “was the beginning of the end.” When asked why they did not seek medical attention when their father cried in pain at night, Ken told investigators, “Pain is the signal that the body is healing itself.”

According to the court, the medical examiner classified Kyle’s death as undetermined, “meaning the Medical Examiner’s office could not say Kyle Shaw Jr.’s death was due to natural causes because of the evidence of neglect and malnutrition.”

King County Prosecutor’s define criminal mistreatment, the charge against the Shaw brothers in this case, as “being the person who has assumed the responsibility to provide to a dependent person, to-wit: the basic necessities of life, did recklessly create an imminent and substantial risk of death or great bodily harm …”

The brothers have not entered pleas in this case. Neither have been jailed, although they were told by the court to stay away from witnesses, including family members, while the case runs its course.

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