Disabled couple forced to work for free/endure extreme temperatures, jury told

2014-04-15T18:45:00Z 2014-04-15T19:23:19Z Disabled couple forced to work for free/endure extreme temperatures, jury toldBy Patrick McNamara Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A developmentally disabled couple were forced to stay outside all day in 100-degree-plus weather, work without pay and sleep on the floor, jurors in the trial of their caregivers, who are charged with abusing them, were told Tuesday.

In Pima County Superior Court, Pamela Gertrude Rasley, 62, and Edgar Lavelle Rasley, 66, face two counts each of vulnerable-adult abuse and unlawfully obtaining labor or services.

“They were outside regardless of the weather,” Assistant Arizona Attorney General Jesse Delaney told jurors in her opening statements.

Delaney said neighbors of the Rasleys, who lived in a motor-home community on the 8500 block of South Van Buren Avenue, called Adult Protective Services in the summer of 2012 after seeing the victims outside of the house on a regular basis.

“She would see them outside, cleaning the yard, pulling weeds — nonstop,” Delaney said.

An investigation concluded the Rasleys forced the victims to stay outside every day, drink from a garden hose and go to the bathroom outside.

“They couldn’t get inside to use the restroom or wash their hands because they weren’t allowed to,” Delaney said.

Edgar Rasley’s defense attorney, Sarah Bullard, said the victims lived with the Rasleys for nearly two years before any neighbor thought anything was amiss.

“You’re not going to hear anything about the Rasleys hitting or abusing (the victims),” Bullard told jurors.

She described the living arrangement the Rasleys had with the victims as one of roommates, not caretakers.

“(The victims) were not restricted from coming or going,” Bullard said.

She noted that the pair live independently now, without caretakers or supervision.

In pretrial arguments, Pamela Rasley’s attorney, Jordan Cohen, said he would show the victims were not forced to go to bathroom outside. Rather, Cohen said, one victim had a habit of going outside.

Pima County sheriff’s Deputy Alejandro Alcantara, one of the deputies who went to the home, said the victims both appeared tan and sunburned in August 2012, when the Sheriff’s Department was called to investigate.

Alcantara said he and another deputy fed the victims and gave them water. They also allowed the victims to sit in the air conditioning in his car, as the temperature that day was higher than 100 degrees.

Sheriff’s Deputy Elisha Caywood said Edgar Rasley initially denied the victims lived at the house. “He said they were doing some work for him,” Caywood testified.

She also testified that Edgar Rasley described the victims as “slightly retarded” when speaking with police.

Caywood said Edgar Rasley later admitted the pair lived at the house and that they slept on the floor, not in one of the other bedrooms.

The trial continues today before Judge Casey McGinley.

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at 573-4241 or pmcnamara@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @pm929.

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