The father and sister of a severely disabled woman who died two years ago after she was hospitalized with more than 20 bedsores — and covered in urine, feces and bugs — pleaded guilty Monday to injury to the disabled.
Mike Garvin, 70, and Tabby Martinjak, 46, both waived their rights to a jury trial, choosing instead to be sentenced by State District Judge Robb Catalano.
A sentencing hearing for the pair, who face up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine, is tentatively scheduled for July after a pre-sentencing investigation.
Marci Garvin, 39, died at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital on March 11, 2013, two days after Martinjak summoned an ambulance to the family’s Fort Worth home, telling dispatchers that her little sister was “nearing the end stages of life.”
At the hospital, staff members alerted authorities after noting that the woman was severely dehydrated, had bed sores covering her body, had poor hygiene and weighed only 50 to 60 pounds.
Texas Adult Protective Services and the inspector general’s office launched investigations and in September 2014, Mike Garvin and Martinjak were indicted on first-degree felony charges of injury to the disabled.
Because Mike Garvin is a retired district attorney investigator, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office recused itself from the case and a special prosecutor, Michael Jarrett of McLennan County, was appointed.
The indictments accused the pair of intentionally or knowingly causing serious bodily injury to Marci by failing to seek timely medical care and by withholding nutrients, hydration and proper hygiene for her.
In entering their guilty pleas Monday, both the prosecutor and the pair’s defense attorney, Jim Lane, agreed to amend the indictments to omit the word “intentionally.”
The Star-Telegram chronicled Marci’s inspirational life and tragic death in “Failing Marci,” a two-part series that was published earlier this year.
Born with numerous disabilities, including cerebral palsy, Marci was deaf, mostly blind and unable to talk.
Yet, with her family’s support, Marci went on various outings and even worked part-time for almost 12 years, stapling and shredding papers for the Star-Telegram. Jobs for someone with the extent of Marci’s disabilities were almost unheard-of in the late 1990s.
But a preliminary APS report, a copy of which was obtained by the Star-Telegram, showed that despite receiving help from private service providers and MHMR of Tarrant County under a Medicaid Waiver program, Marci spent her last years under the primary care of a sister suffering from mental illness, including hoarding.
Martinjak was also responsible for caring for her own grown, special-needs daughter, who has since been removed from her custody by the state, and the women’s ailing mother, Elaine Garvin. Elaine Garvin, who reportedly suffered from the early states of dementia, died five months after Marci.
“I think the facts will show that she had three sad situations happening all at the same time,” Lane had previously told the Star-Telegram. “Any one of three would overwhelm most people.”
The state has recommended that two of the employees involved in the oversight of Marci’s care — Bill Eaton and Dianne Salas — be added to the Employment Misconduct Registry to ensure that they are never again employed by a facility or agency regulated by the Department of Aging and Disability Services.
Both Eaton and Salas appealed. A ruling on their appeals is expected soon.
Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655