A Louisiana couple has pleaded no contest after their daughter’s body was found “melted” into a couch covered in maggots. Prosecutors want the couple to spend 40 years behind bars for the alarming neglect, according to the New York Post.
Sheila and Clay Fletcher were arrested in January 2022 after their 36-year-old daughter was discovered dead in a waste pile on the family’s couch. Her body was covered in feces and urine. Reports noted that the body had been there for 12 years, and the woman weighed around 100 pounds.
A second report suggested that starvation was a primary factor in the woman’s death. East Feliciana Coroner Dr. Ewell Bickham said, “What happened to Lacey should never happen again,” adding that “if someone is having issues, if someone has mental health issues, there are resources out there and social programs.”
East Feliciana Parish District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla said prosecutors will seek the maximum sentence of 40 years behind bars for the couple. Sentencing in the case has been slated for March 20.
D’Aquilla told the Daily Mail that “the Fletchers are pleading no contest to the new charges. They had no choice. This is an open-and-shut case — they allowed their daughter to suffer unbearably on that couch.”
“We want this case to be a message. We want to stand for the people who can’t speak for themselves, to say this treatment will not be tolerated.”
The DA initially called for the couple to be jailed immediately, but District Judge Kathryn Jones allowed them to continue their bond until February 20. The Fletchers’ defense team suggested that the couple did not intend to harm their daughter.
“They were negligent, yes. It is clear they were negligent. They loved her to death — that is the true statement with the Fletchers. They loved their daughter to death,” defense attorney Steven Moore said.
“When you look back at it, you wonder, why? How could this happen? It did happen. But at no point did Sheila or Clay Fletcher ever have a single intent to harm their daughter. They loved their daughter to a fault,” Moore added.
Moore drew attention to Lacey’s apparent autism, saying: “Anyone with handicapped children can tell you those things can happen. This is an extreme example of how that happens. They have taken responsibility. Now they look back, they can’t believe they got to the position they’re in.”
“They are good people who have never been in trouble in their life. They are great members of this community, people came to support them, because that is not who they are.”
“They are not criminals. They are on bond because they are not a danger to anybody in this community. They have never been a danger to the community.”
“The things that happened to Lacey are horrible,” Moore conceded. “But they cared for her daily. Sheila Fletcher would come home at lunch every day to care and eat lunch with her daughter every single day.”
“She slept on the couch, with her daughter every night.”
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