A Henrico County woman was recently sentenced to 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to abusing an 87-year-old woman suffering from dementia.
Jacguilin Gilbert, 56, of the 200 block of Tamarack Road, pleaded guilty in May to malicious wounding and elder abuse. In exchange for her plea, the prosecutor dropped two other charges. But Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney B.J. McGee asked for a harsh sentence after it was discovered that a foster child had died in Gilbert’s care years earlier in Georgia.
The Henrico charges were brought when a nurse reported the abuse after she visited Gilbert’s home, where she was the caregiver for the 87-year-old victim and another woman, according to McGee. Gilbert was not able to provide medical care, so a nurse visited the home often.
On Aug. 6, 2019, the nurse called Adult Protective Services about injuries to the victim that hadn’t been there on a previous visit. The woman had a blackened eye, which was swollen shut; a lump on her head; and an abrasion on her arm, according to a police report.
In a phone interview, McGee said the victim also had a broken hip, though it wasn’t clear if the injury occurred because of the abuse.
The victim, who suffered from dementia brought on by Alzheimer’s disease, testified at a preliminary hearing that Gilbert had been the one to hurt her, though McGee said she’d incorrectly insisted that she didn’t live in Gilbert’s home, and that Gilbert was her hairdresser. McGee said the woman’s granddaughters had placed her there only a few weeks prior to the report of abuse.
The other woman Gilbert cared for denied abuse at first, but said later that she’d been hit, too, McGee said.
On Wednesday, Henrico Judge Lee A. Harris Jr. sentenced Gilbert to 30 years with 16 years suspended. The 14-year active sentence exceeded sentencing guidelines, which ranged from 4 years to 9 years and 4 months for similar offenses.
McGee asked for the stiffer sentence based on that fact that Gilbert had been convicted of a similar, albeit more serious, crime before. In 1995, Gilbert was sentenced to 20 years for voluntary manslaughter and cruelty in Georgia for the death of a foster child, who was in her care at the time. The child was 15 or 16 months old, according to a police report.
In both cases, Gilbert had been entrusted with the care of someone who couldn’t care for, or defend, themselves, McGee said.
“The defendant breached that trust,” he said, adding that Gilbert had taken advantage of victims who might not even be able to report the abuse they’d endured.
Gilbert’s defense attorney, Catherine Lawler, did not respond for comment, but McGee said Gilbert had suffered from mental health issues and wasn’t medicated at the time of the offense.