Five plead not guilty to failing to report death

Tucson Citizen/April 15, 2003
By David L. Teibel

Five people pleaded not guilty in Tucson City Court yesterday to charges they failed to report the death of a man as his body decomposed for at least three weeks in his Southwest Side home. Police said the body of James W. Killeen, 50, remained in his South Hillerman Drive home while members of a religious group prayed for his resurrection.

Cited on suspicion of failing to report Killeen's death were religious leader Stanley Adair Bennett, 51; Bennett's wife, Jill L. Bennett, 48; Killeen's widow, Eleanor Killeen, 49; and the Killeens' son, Timothy J. Killeen, age unavailable. Also cited was Francisco Antonio Contreras, 21, who was visiting the home, said Sgt. Marco Borboa, a police spokesman.

The five declined comment as they walked from Special City Court Magistrate David G. Dingeldine's courtroom. Dingeldine ordered the five to return to court May 19 for pretrial conferences, during which the City Attorney's Office could offer them a plea agreement.

If no plea agreement is offered, or if the five decide they want to go to trial, a trial date will be set, Dingeldine said. State law requires, in most circumstances, that anyone knowing of a death report it to a law enforcement officer or the county medical examiner.

Failure to do so is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum sentence of four months in jail, a $750 fine and two years' probation, said City Prosecutor Laura Brynwood.

When someone dies while being treated through prayer or spiritual means alone "in accordance with the tenets and practices of a well-recognized church or religious denomination" for an accidental injury or illness "and death occurred without a physician in attendance," it must be reported to the medical examiner.

Tucson Police Department officers found Killeen's body Jan. 23 after friends and relatives asked police to check on his welfare because they had not been able to contact him.

Police had only Tucson post office box numbers for the Bennetts' and Contreras' addresses. Eleanor Killeen and Timothy Killeen live on South Hillerman.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.