Lexington couple sentenced for neglect in death of mentally handicapped son

jwarren@herald-leader.comJune 6, 2014 

A Lexington man and woman were sentenced to 20 and 10 years, respectively, for abuse and neglect that led to the death of their adult son.

Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone imposed the prison sentences Thursday for Jerry Lakes and Peggy Joyce Whitlock.

Lakes and Whitlock recently pleaded guilty to various charges stemming from the death of their mentally handicapped son, Gerald Lee Lakes, 24, last year.

Authorities charged, among other things, that Jerry Lakes gambled with thousands of dollars in Social Security payments that were meant for the support of Gerald Lakes and the couple's other children.

Jerry Lakes pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, two counts of knowing abuse or neglect of an adult, three counts of exploitation, and three counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of property.

Whitlock pleaded guilty to two counts of knowing abuse and neglect. Lakes and Whitlock initially were charged with murder after authorities found Gerald Lee Lakes dead of starvation and dehydration in May 2013 in a room at the Knights Inn on Stanton Way where the family lived.

At the motel, investigators also found two other adult sons, John and Tommy, who were unwashed, malnourished, and weighted less than 100 pounds. A daughter, Mary, appeared to be well cared for, they said.

An adult protection investigator filed a report in court describing the boys as looking like "concentration camp victims" when they were found.

An indictment said Jerry Lakes and Whitlock pocketed thousands of dollars in Social Security payments meant for the care of their children. Lakes then used that money for gambling while his sons languished, officials charged.

A grand jury reduced the initial murder charge to manslaughter.

According to court documents, Social Security paid the couple more than $55,000 between Sept. 23, 2011 and June 3, 2011, to provide for their children. Lakes was ordered to pay restitution.

Jim Warren (859) 231-3255. Twitter: @heraldleader

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