Son guilty of murder by neglect

Benjamin Burnette pleaded guilty Thursday to the murder of his 78-year-old mother through neglect.

Lonia Young Burnette died in April 2006 from an infection caused by severe bedsores.

“This is the most horrible and disgusting case of neglect I've ever seen or heard of,” Mecklenburg Assistant District Attorney Marsha Goodenow told the judge.

Goodenow said Lonia Burnette had bedsores all over her body, some that were open to the bone. Benjamin Burnette lived with his mother and was her primary caregiver.

The 47-year-old could face 10 years in prison, perhaps more, when sentenced. Superior Court Judge Bob Bell postponed sentencing until the defendant could undergo a mental evaluation to determine if he's mildly retarded.

Mecklenburg Assistant Public Defender Dean Loven told the judge that Benjamin Burnette had been taking care of his mother and his dying girlfriend.

“He was dealing with two very ill people,” the defense lawyer said. “He wasn't able to deal with it. He took a responsibility. And he failed miserably.”

Benjamin Burnette entered what's called an Alford plea, allowing him to plead guilty without admitting guilt. Defendants who enter such pleas are sentenced as if they pleaded guilty.