NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (AP) — The stepfather of a woman who spent 21 years in a coma after being beaten by her husband said he knows she would have died years earlier had it not been for the family's care of her at home.
Bernadette Jones, 51, of Niagara Falls, died Sunday of pneumonia at her family's home, The Buffalo News (http://bit.ly/RmLIYL ) reported. As her stepfather, Robert Anderson Jr., and other relatives prepared for her funeral Friday, Anderson recalled how family and friends came together when the mother of three was released from the hospital eight months after the attack.
Jones could breathe on her own but needed a feeding tube. She never woke up, although family members said she would eventually open her left eye and move her arms as they cared for her, played music and read from the Bible. Early on, her three children would climb into bed with her and sleep.
"You have to do it willingly and 300 percent or don't do it," Anderson, 70, told The Buffalo News. "Through all the trials and tribulations we went through, we never once argued over Bernadette."
Her late mother, Marie Anderson, obtained round-the-clock medical care from the state's Crime Victims Board, which also gave money toward the construction of a room for Jones at the back of the family home.
"We know she would have expired a long time ago if she had not come home to live with us," said Robert Anderson, a City Council member. "We know she's gone home to God and to her mother and wow, that's a plus."
Jones was beaten by her husband, Patrick Guiteau, on April 14, 1991. Guiteau, 58, was convicted of first-degree assault and sentenced in November 1992 to 10 to 15 years in prison. State prison records show he was released to immigration officials in 2002. Jones' relatives said Guiteau was an illegal immigrant and was deported to Haiti.
Niagara County prosecutors did not immediately respond to messages Friday asking whether Guiteau might face further charges related to Jones' death.
Information from: The Buffalo News, http://www.buffalonews.com