Police: Father gambled while son starved

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Associated Press

Posted on May 15, 2013 at 1:02 PM

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A Lexington police detective has testified that a man charged with murder in the death of his mentally disabled son told police that he gambled while the younger man starved to death.

The Lexington Herald Leader (http://bit.ly/12be4ps) reports police detective Chris Russell testified during a preliminary hearing on Tuesday that he asked 64-year-old Jerry Lakes what happened to the disability benefits he got for his children. Russell testified that Lakes initially said the $4,000 a month went to pay debts, but then said he might be "gambling it all away."

Police have charged Lakes and his wife, 58-year-old Peggy Whitlock, in the death of 24-year-old Gerald Lee Lakes. Police say he died in March of starvation and dehydration in the motel room where the family lived. Three other mentally disabled adults, two of whom were malnourished, were also found in the room.

Jeremy Kemper, Jerry Lakes' attorney, called the case "troubling," but says his client is "innocent of murder."

"This is an extremely unfortunate situation, but I would remind everyone that he was innocent when he walked in there," he said.

Whitlock's attorney, Lucas Roberts, declined to comment.

Russell testified during the hearing in Fayette District Court that the disability money was deposited into a bank account at the beginning of each month and that Lakes was the only person with access to it.

Detective Kristie Smith said police are still getting financial records, but found evidence that Lakes spent "thousands of dollars" in one Indiana casino.

Police said it appears an adult daughter was fed and cared for, but the two sons who survived subsisted mostly on chocolate milk. Police said both men were under 100 pounds and weren't able to stand without support.

Russell testified that both are showing "measureable gains in strength" since being in state care.

Smith testified that Gerald Lakes could not care for himself.

Evidence showed "that he was not able to feed himself, that he was completely dependent on others for everything regarding his care," she said.

"When I asked (Whitlock) what she thought her son died of, she clearly said, 'He didn't have enough to eat,'" Smith said.

After the hearing, Fayette District Judge Kim Wilkie denied bond and sent the case to the grand jury, which will decide whether to indict the couple.

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com

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