BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — An 83-year-old woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to beating her 89-year-old husband to death in their home.
Phyllis Eson was ordered held without bail following her arraignment in state Supreme Court on a manslaughter charge. Eson is a Canadian citizen who overstayed her visa and is in the U.S. illegally, prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable said in asking that she remain jailed.
Eson, who recently won a $500,000 judgment in an unrelated civil case, said nothing as she stood at the defense table. Her attorney, Daniel Grasso, indicated he may pursue a psychiatric defense and was given time to schedule an examination.
Two evaluations after her arrest in July concluded she is competent to stand trial, Curtin Gable said.
Eson was arrested after police found the body of Norman Eson on the floor of the couple’s home in the town of Tonawanda, north of Buffalo, on July 6. Police said she answered the door with Norman’s blood on her clothes.
The manslaughter charge alleges that Eson killed her husband while intending to injure him.
An autopsy showed Norman Eson, a retired pharmacist, died from head trauma. Authorities haven’t revealed exactly how he was killed.
Both Esons appeared to suffer from dementia, but Norman was more severely affected, according to Phyllis Eson’s attorney in an unrelated civil case, which claimed the couple had been swindled by a handyman out of more than $1 million.
“From what I observed, Phyllis was Norman’s caretaker. I observed an elderly woman who was caring for her elderly spouse,” attorney Brendan Little told The Associated Press.
The civil complaint filed in June said the handyman scammed Phyllis Eson out of more than $500,000 in cash, as well as her Lexus and real estate, by telling her that her property needed repairs or was facing foreclosure.
“Eson, an elderly and vulnerable woman, relied on and believed” the lies, the complaint said.
A judge awarded the Esons $515,000 in August.
Norman Eson’s brother said the civil case and the attack on her husband were unrelated.
“Basically, she’s insane from day one,” Edward Isenberg said by phone. He declined to elaborate, but he said he blamed Phyllis Eson for his brother’s death.
He said Phyllis and Norman Eson had been married twice, the first time when they were in their 20s and living in Montreal.
The couple spent most of their lives in Canada but recently moved to New York to be closer to relatives.