- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

SHAMOKIN, Pa. (AP) - A woman whose 66-year-old mother died of hypothermia in their unheated northeastern Pennsylvania home has been ordered to stand trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter and neglect of a care dependent person.

Mary Collins, 45, of Shamokin, was ordered to trial after a preliminary hearing Tuesday into the Feb. 16 death of her mother, Ellen Jackson.

Kennith Jackson testified Collins - his sister - called him for help getting their mother off the floor the day before she died. Ellen Jackson has fallen on the floor while trying to move from a recliner to a potty chair and was still on the floor when her son arrived hours later, he testified.

Jackson testified he didn’t call 911 because Collins threatened he’d never see their mother again and that Collins would have their mother moved to a nursing home.

“The way my sister told me, if I called anyone, she would lose her daughter and I wouldn’t be able to see my mom,” Jackson testified.

Northumberland County Coroner James Kelley testified that he wore three layers of clothing, a jacket and gloves while inside the home where Ellen Jackson lived with Collins, her fiancee and Collins’ 7-year-old daughter. That day temperatures ranged from minus-9 to 9 degrees.

The thermostat of the home, which was strewn with trash and human waste, was at 56 degrees, but only because that was the lowest setting, the coroner testified. Kelley estimated the temperature inside the home was actually below freezing, and police later found the home’s furnace out of oil and covered in cobwebs, suggesting it hadn’t been used in some time.

Public defender John Broda argued that Collins didn’t meet the legal definition of a “caretaker” under state law, but a district judge agreed with the prosecutor, who argued that Collins qualified because she was using her mother’s money to help pay the bills.



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