Auckland man found dead in chair without regular medication, Crown says

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A man who was found dead and fused to a recliner had not received any medication for three of the last five months of his life, medical records show.

Malia Li is charged with manslaughter for alleged negligence of her husband, Lanitola Epenisa, who died of sepsis from infected bedsores in October 2016. She denies the charge.

The Crown says that Epenisa, a stonemason who had previously suffered strokes, was left fused to the chair where he died in his south Auckland home.

The defense argument is that the bedsores became infected in as little as 10 hours before Epenisa died, and her death was not the result of negligence.

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The Auckland High Court has previously heard from the couple’s 21-year-old daughter Litia Li, who said her father’s strokes meant he was sometimes incontinent.

Malia Unalotokipea Li is accused of failing to provide her disabled husband Lanitola Epenisa with food, water and medical aid before her death, sitting in her own garbage.

RICKY WILSON / Tips

Malia Unalotokipea Li is accused of failing to provide her disabled husband Lanitola Epenisa with food, water and medical aid before her death, sitting in her own garbage.

His father would refuse to let their mother help care for him, she told the court.

Litia and her twin sister, who were 14 when Epenisa suffered her first stroke, helped their father go to the bathroom and cleaned it up, although it was considered tapu (forbidden) to do so.

“In Tongan culture, we don’t have the right to do this because it’s very disrespectful, but we chose to do it because there was no one else around,” Litia said.

Crown Prosecutor Jasper Rhodes has claimed medical records show Epenisa was only prescribed medication for two of the last five months of her life.

Ryan Anderson / Stuff

Crown Prosecutor Jasper Rhodes has claimed medical records show Epenisa was only prescribed medication for two of the last five months of her life.

Litia’s twin, Emele Li, was questioned by Crown Prosecutor Jasper Rhodes on Friday.

Rhodes said that according to medical records, Epenisa was only prescribed enough medication for two months and one week in the last five months of her life.

These prescriptions included one week of medication in April and 28 days of medication prescribed in May and September 2016.

Judge Edwin Wylie presides over the trial.

David White / Tips

Judge Edwin Wylie presides over the trial.

Rhodes claimed that Epenisa did not regularly receive her medication.

“We have always made sure that his medication was administered, morning and evening,” Emele replied.

She added that her mother would call the doctor for repeat prescriptions, but her father did not want to go to appointments.

Epenisa’s last visit to a doctor was on January 5, 2016, Rhodes said.

He asked where else the family got their medicine.

But Emele said she believed the doctor’s records were false.

“I know he never ran out of meds.”

Her father had started spitting up his medication the week before she died, she said.

“I told him to take it, he just refused. He said he was fine.

When asked if she was worried about it, Emele said yes, but Rhodes maintained that she knew her father was not doing well.

“He kept refusing and getting angry,” she said.

The trial before Justice Wylie and a jury continues.


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