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A Huffman woman who is charged with murder for an alleged push that this week caused her 86-year-old father’s death was released from probation in March after completing less than one-third of the punishment-in-lieu-of-conviction for a 2015 felony accusation of injuring her dad.
Janice Byrnes, 45, is accused of “pushing” the octogenarian “with her hand” on Sunday and causing his death, Harris County criminal court records state.
John Byrnes died in the kitchen, according to a case status update from the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences. An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Harris County deputies responded to an emergency call from the 1300 block of Gum Tree Lane near Vanya in northeast Harris County.
“After units arrived on scene, they detained a female and found a male in need of EMS,” the Harris County Sheriff’s Office reported.
When paramedics arrived, they confirmed that a male “had no signs of life.”
Janice Byrnes was transported by officers for questioning and was charged with murder around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.
She remained in the Harris County jail late Wednesday on $50,000 bail and is scheduled for a court appearance on Thursday morning.
In a brief phone conversation, another daughter of John Byrnes sobbed as she declined an interview.
Melanie Zwego, 52, resides in the home across Gum Tree Lane from the Byrnes residence and has lived on the street all her life. She has known family members since they moved into their one-story brick house four decades ago in the 1970s. The matriarch of the family passed away 20 years ago.
Janice Byrnes left the community after graduating from high school, Zwego said, but returned a few years ago to the family home.
“There’s just been a lot of issues going on ever since she came back. Lots of police showing up,” the neighbor said while standing on her porch. “He was dead in the house for two days and she finally went next door and told those people that he was dead.”
Zwego remembers John Byrnes as an aging man who spent an increasing amount of time inside and depended on Janice Byrnes to drive him around.
“They were going all the time. You’d see them all the time,” she said.
John Byrnes had reported being “pushed around” by his daughter to neighbors and asked for advice, Zwego said.
That outreach was a stretch from his usual reserved persona.
“He was into stocks and bonds. He was very smart, but he was very private,” Zwego said. “He didn’t do a lot of socializing. He’d wave when he went by.”
Last year, Janice Byrnes entered a plea bargain after an arrest for allegedly shoving John Byrnes, then 84, and “causing him to strike a wall,” court records show. She sidestepped a third-degree felony conviction on April 21, 2015 by receiving a three-year deferred adjudication sentence – a type of probation – and a $100 fine. The usual range of punishment for a conviction is two to 10 years in state prison.
Janice Byrnes was released from community supervision on March 23, 2016 after the presiding judge found that she “satisfactorily fulfilled the conditions of supervision imposed by the court.”
According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, nearly 90 percent of elder abuse and neglect cases are caused by a family member and two-third of perpetrators are adult children or spouses. The agency also reports that elders who have been abused have a 300 percent higher risk of death when compared to seniors who have not been mistreated.
Concerned citizens can report the abuse, neglect or exploitation of a person who is elderly or has a disability by visiting www.txabusehotline.org or calling the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400.
Story provided by Houston Chronicle.