Original article no longer available
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By DERRICK MAHONE
Friday, September 19, 2008
Whitus starved, drugged 63-year-old disabled woman
A Smyrna live-in caregiver was sentenced to life in prison plus 10 years Friday in the death of a 63-year-old disabled woman.
Madonna Whitus, 43, was also given 10 years probation and ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation and treatment as part of the sentence imposed by Superior Court Judge Dorothy Robinson.
Last week, a jury found Whitus guilty of the murdering Kathie Durant in December 2007. Whitus gave the disabled woman some of Whitus’ anti-depressant medication. Whitus fed the victim Slimfast and soda for a week. Authorities say the combination of the drugs and lack of food killed Durant.
As she lay dying in her Smyrna townhouse, Whitus went shopping and tried to deposit a $55,000 check from Durant into her own account, according to court testimony.
Durant’s brother, James Gust and his wife, Rita, read prepared statements during the sentencing hearing.
“How could she [Whitus] be so cruel, Kathie was only trying to help her,” Rita Gust said. “You know you are going to lose a loved one at some point, but an untimely and violent death is unacceptable.”