Sheila and Clay Fletcher were arrested in May 2022 in connection with the death of their 36-year-old daughter Lacey Fletcher
Sheila and Clay Fletcher pleaded no contest this week to a reduced charge of manslaughter after a judge dropped the second-degree murder charges
Authorities arrested the couple in May 2022 after finding their daughter Lacey Fletcher, 36, dead on a couch in their home
Lacey had reportedly been diagnosed with autism and was non-verbal
A Louisiana couple pleaded no contest Monday to a reduced charge of manslaughter stemming from the death of their adult daughter who was found dead and fused to a couch in their home.
Sheila and Clay Fletcher had their second-degree murder charges dropped by a judge in 2023 due to what was described as conflicting language in their charging documents, WAFB, WBRZ-TV and The Advocate reported, citing prosecutors.
The pair were arrested in May 2022 in connection with the death of their 36-year-old daughter Lacey Fletcher. On Jan. 3, 2022, Lacey was found dead in her family’s home in Slaughter, La., where East Feliciana Coroner Dr. Ewell Bickham said Lacey had "melted" into the couch, according to WBRZ-TV.
Describing the scene, authorities said in court documents obtained by The Advocate that Lacey’s body had been covered in maggots, ulcers and feces.
The coroner added that Lacey’s bones had been exposed and she weighed about 96 lbs., later determining that starvation was a contributing factor in her death, according to WAFB and WBRZ-TV.
According to authorities, Lacey had been diagnosed with autism and was non-verbal, WBRZ reported.
The parents have said their daughter was “of sound mind” and claimed they brought her meals and a portable toilet but she was afraid to leave the couch, The Advocate reported.
Steven Moore, the couple’s defense attorney, told WBRZ-TV that they “loved [Lacey] to death.”
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“The things that happened to Lacey are horrible in the way it worked out, but they cared for her daily,” Moore added, per the outlet.
In a statement sent to PEOPLE on Wednesday, West Feliciana District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla said, “We want to stand for children, elderly and infirm persons that cannot speak for themselves and bring attention to these situations to prevent further abuse, mistreatment or neglect.”
"We consider letting a person under your care, custody and control deteriorate to the point that her untreated wounds expose her bones is a very serious crime and the penalty should be life imprisonment," he added.
The couple’s sentencing is scheduled for March 20, according to WBRZ-TV.
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