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Women charged with 2017 death at Miss. veterans facility

The Mississippi State Veterans Home in Oxford, Miss.

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

By WILLIAM MOORE | The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tribune News Service) | Published: July 11, 2018

OXFORD, Miss. – Two Lafayette County women have been charged with the death of a World War II veteran in April 2017 at the Mississippi State Veterans Home in Oxford.

Bridget Austin, 41, of Abbeville, and Jeanee Dunn, 25, of Oxford, have been arrested and charged with culpable negligent manslaughter. During their initial court appearance Tuesday, Lafayette County Justice Court Judge Carolyn Bell set bond at $250,000 each.

Durley Bratton, 93, of Oxford, was a resident of the Veterans Administration facility in the spring of 2017 when he suffered injuries and was transferred to a trauma center in Memphis. Medical personnel at the Regional One Trauma Center thought the injuries appeared to be abuse and contacted police on April 15, 2017.

Investigators identified Austin and Dunn, both employees of the veterans home, as persons of interest. While police were still investigating the possible abuse, Bratton died from his injuries on April 18, 2017.

The body was sent to the state Medical Examiner’s office in Pearl for an autopsy. When the results finally came back more than 14 months later on July 2, the autopsy ruled the cause of death as blunt force trauma.

Investigators immediately filed affidavits and got arrest warrants. Dunn was detained July 2. Austin was arrested Monday. Both women remain in the Lafayette County Detention Center.

“We are glad to provide some resolution for the Bratton family, though we cannot know their pain,” said Oxford Police Chief Joey East. “I appreciate the collaborative effort and dedication of our investigators and the county coroner’s office in this lengthy investigation.”

According to the Mississippi Code, anyone convicted for manslaughter can face up to 20 years in the state penitentiary.

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©2018 the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, Miss.)
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