Kelly Rhodes, 49, was awaiting trial on a murder charge in Port Huron. But she pleaded guilty Friday to manslaughter and misdemeanor counts of vulnerable adult abuse and mishandling a body. The manslaughter charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
Mary Grenia, of Salem, Ore., died a few days after she and her daughter were turned away while trying to enter Ontario, Canada, with a truck full of possessions.
An autopsy revealed heart and lung disease, but no sign of trauma.
Grenia died in the truck. Her body was found March 9 in Port Huron Township.
St. Clair County Prosecutor Mike Wendling said Rhodes was charged with manslaughter because abuse and neglect caused Grenia's death, The Times Herald reported.
"Vulnerable adult abuse in our community, and all the communities in the state, is a growing problem," Wendling said. "Unfortunately, it's a really difficult crime to investigate because many of the vulnerable adults in our community don't have a voice."
Rhodes was arrested in Belleville, Ill., three days after the body was discovered.
Circuit Judge Cynthia Lane is to sentence Rhodes on Dec. 23.
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