Pair Get Up to 15 Years in Neglect Death of Korean War Veteran

Gavel. Getty Images
Gavel. Getty Images

An Erie, Pennsylvania, man and woman were both sentenced to six to 15 years in state prison on Tuesday after they admitted to fatally neglecting an 85-year-old man and burying his body in the yard of their West Fifth Street apartment house in the summer of 2018.

The defendants, 34-year-old Antonio D. McLaurin and 29-year-old Elizabeth D. Taylor, each pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and a second-degree misdemeanor count of abuse of a corpse before Erie County Judge John J. Mead.

Mead immediately sentenced the two to six to 15 years in state prison -- the same sentence that the Erie County District Attorney's Office agreed to recommend as a condition of the plea agreement, according to information presented in court. The office also dropped charges including conspiracy and neglect of a care-dependent person.

The charge of third-degree murder carries a maximum possible sentence of 20 to 40 years in state prison. The sentence of six to 15 years was in the standard range of the state sentencing guidelines for both defendants. Mead also sentenced both to two years of probation.

Erie police charged that McLaurin and Taylor caused the death of Vincent Force in June 2018, while the three were living together at the West Fifth Street apartment, near Sassafras Street. Investigators found Force's body buried and wrapped in plastic in the yard of the residence on July 14, 2018.

Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook ruled Force's death a homicide in September and said an examination of Force's body determined he had died of malnutrition and multiple bed sores.

Police said Force was also scalded in a shower about a month before his death.

Force was an Army veteran who served in the Korean War.

"You denied this soldier the dignified end he truly deserved," Mead told McLaurin.

McLaurin declined to address Mead. His court-appointed lawyer, Bruce Sandmeyer, spoke on his behalf and told Mead that "Mr. McLaurin asked me to reiterate to the court that he truly did care for Mr. Force." Sandmeyer said McLaurin regrets Force's death and the decision to bury his body in a shallow grave.

Taylor apologized.

"We are sorry," she told Mead. "We can't take back what happened."

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This article was written by Madeleine O'Neill from Erie Times-News, Pa. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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