A Cabazon couple who allowed their diabetic teenage daughter’s condition to deteriorate until she slipped into a coma and died are slated to be sentenced tomorrow to 15 years to life in prison.
On March 24, a Riverside jury found Gregory Lee Latham, 63, and Yvonne Dee Latham, 53, guilty of second-degree murder, child endangerment and a sentence-enhancing allegation of corporal injury to a child resulting in death.
In April 2006, the defendants’ 17-year-old daughter, Nanette, suffered complications related to diabetic ketoacidosis – a life-threatening condition brought on by a shortage of insulin – and slipped into a vegetative state from which she never emerged.
Over a five-day span, the teen deteriorated in her family’s dilapidated trailer, eventually losing the ability to eat, walk, or even hold her head up, according to trial testimony.
Deputy District Attorney Burke Strunsky said two neighbors told the Lathams their daughter needed medical attention, but the couple dismissed their concerns.
Strunsky argued there was no excuse for the defendants’ inaction, given that barely five years earlier, Nanette had suffered a similar episode and was rushed to a Moreno Valley hospital, where she recovered and staff instructed the Lathams on how to spot warning signs in the future.
While the girl’s health collapsed in 2006, Gregory Latham sat idly by, drinking beer, Strunsky said.
He said Yvonne Latham refused to act until it appeared her daughter was no longer breathing, at which point the woman called 911 in a panic.
The teen was brain-dead when she reached Loma Linda University Medical Center, where she died a few days later.
Deputy Public Defender O.G. Magno said Gregory Latham, himself a diabetic, thought he knew how to treat his daughter but was ill-prepared because of his “limited intellectual ability.”
Both Magno and Victor Marshall, Yvonne Latham’s attorney, told jurors that the defendants loved their daughter, who was self-reliant and somewhat “controlling,” adamantly refusing to go to the hospital.