Daughter accused of leaving maggot-infested mother to rot pleads not guilty

Warning: Story contains graphic content that may offend some readers.

SEATTLE - An Auburn woman accused of doing nothing while maggots gnawed at her elderly mother pleaded not guilty Monday to a felony elder-abuse charge.

Sherrie Morton, 46, remains in custody with bail set at $150,000.

King County prosecutors say Morton left her 70-year-old mother to rot at the Southeast 315th Street home they shared. The older woman would most likely have died there, had medics and King County Sheriff's Office deputies not rescued her earlier this month.

Deputies and medics arrived to find the older woman stuck to her bedding. According to charging papers, a deputy looking into the bedroom window saw maggots crawling in a large open wound on the woman's leg; the bed sheets were soiled with the byproducts of injury and covered in bugs.

As deputies entered the home, Morton emerged from a rear bedroom. According to charging papers, Morton said she'd been living at the home for 13 years and claimed her mother's injury was only a few days old. Paramedics came to a different conclusion: The woman had been injured at least a month before, and the septic, gangrenous wound could have taken her leg.

Firefighters and medics dressed in hazardous-material suits pulled the woman from her home and transported her to Valley Medical Center, where she was in critical condition. Medical staff removed hundreds of maggots from her body in the days following her rescue.

Still, the woman claimed to have been well cared for in her home, Priebe-Olson told the court.

"(She) said in the hospital that her care at home was fine," the detective told the court. "However, (she) did not understand that maggots eating her flesh was not good care."

Questioned at the home, Morton claimed she had changed her mother's diaper and bedding two days before and that the maggots had appeared the day police arrived, Priebe-Olson told the court. She called 911 five hours after she claimed to have first seen the maggots, the detective continued, and only did so after a friend threatened to do the same.

Morton's next court appearance is scheduled for July 18.