Man pleads guilty, gets probation in scalding death

A former personal-care attendant pleaded guilty Friday in the February 2010 bathtub scalding death of a 75-year-old disabled woman and was put on probation for three years after the victim’s son and daughter-in-law told a judge they did not want to see the man go to prison.

Warren Lee, 28, of Baton Rouge, was scheduled to stand trial next week on a charge of negligent homicide in the death of Rosie Mae Johnson. He pleaded guilty as charged. Negligent homicide carries up to five years in prison.

“I want him to be on probation. It was an accident,” Patricia Robinson told state District Judge Richard Anderson, adding that Lee cared for her mother-in-law for more than three years.

When Assistant Attorney General Tasha West asked Robinson to describe the bond between Johnson and Lee, she replied, “Very close, like a mother.”

Donald Robinson Sr., who is married to Patricia Robinson, told the judge he had “no problem” with Lee receiving probation in the death of his mother. He said Lee was a good worker and had no prior problems.

Johnson was living at the Robinson home at the time of the incident, Patricia Robinson said. Lee was a certified nursing assistant and personal-care attendant at the time of the incident, West said.

Court documents state that Lee put Johnson in a bathtub on Feb. 13, 2010, and turned on the hot water without determining the water’s temperature. Johnson sat in water that was approximately 145 to 150 degrees and suffered second- and third-degree burns to a major portion of her body, the documents say.

After Lee discovered the injuries, he fully clothed Johnson, including putting on a leather coat and socks, the documents state. When Johnson’s daughter-in-law attempted to help her sit up, the skin on Johnson’s hand “came off,’’ according to the documents.

Johnson was taken to a hospital burn unit but died Feb. 21. Her death certificate lists the cause of death as “complications of thermal burns’’ and “scalding.’’