A man who had been charged with neglecting his 79-year-old mother was found dead in his cell at the Hall County Jail, authorities said Monday.
On Sunday, Larry Smallwood, 52, was found unresponsive in his jail cell after 8 p.m. and was later pronounced dead. An autopsy performed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on Monday showed that Smallwood died of a heart attack, according to a press release from Hall County Sheriff’s Maj. Jeff Strickland.
Smallwood had been in the Hall County Jail since April 7, after his mother, Gladys Smallwood, died in a Gainesville hospital the day before. Larry Smallwood and his live-in girlfriend, Brenda Jean Ivey, 46, were charged with cruelty to a person over 65 and forgery, on allegations that the couple denied food to Gladys Smallwood and the woman spent her final weeks at home lying in soiled sheets at the couple’s Hazel Street home.
Days after Gladys Smallwood was admitted to Northeast Georgia Medical Center for a "serious infection" on Feb. 25, Ivey allegedly cashed the woman’s $272 Social Security check at an Atlanta Highway grocery store.
When Gladys Smallwood died in the hospital on April 6, investigators considered charging the couple with her murder, but when an autopsy revealed that the deceased woman also suffered from a pre-existing heart condition, the District Attorney’s office settled on charging them with cruelty to a person older than 65, a felony that carries a sentencing range of one to 20 years in prison.
"She likely would have soon died regardless of the alleged neglectful treatment," Hall County District Attorney Lee Darragh said. "The charges that were made in the investigation are backed by sufficient evidence to enable the state to go forward on those."
Ivey is still in the Hall County Jail on a $15,000 bond, Strickland said.