WINNIPEG — The lawyer for a musician who is accused of letting his 90-year-old mother die on the floor after she fell out of bed says his client is a doting son who is devastated and grieving in jail.
Mike Cook says Ron Siwicki was complying with his mother’s wishes when she fell in mid-December. She didn’t want medical attention, so Siwicki fed her nutritional drinks for several days until she died. He then called 911, Cook said Monday.
Siwicki, 62, has been in custody since being charged with criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessities of life.
“He’s devastated,” Cook said. “It’s very difficult for me to discuss the facts of the case with him … When I started to read the police report, he just broke down. He put his head into his hands and was sobbing.”
Siwicki was seeking bail at a hearing scheduled for Monday afternoon. Police custody is the “worst possible place” for him, said Cook, who pointed out Siwicki is “grieving with strangers.”
“You’re 62 years of age. You’ve never been involved in the criminal justice system. Your mom dies and you’re in custody because of this? I can’t imagine a more horrible scenario for this fellow,” Cook said.
“He should be at home with his family.”
The case is rare, Cook said, because the charges usually involve parents who don’t get their children medical attention. Siwicki’s mother lived with him and the outcome could have a broader significance as more people care for their aging parents and relatives at home, Cook suggested.
“What happens with aged relatives at home? What if they don’t want care? What if they want to die peacefully in their own home?” he said. “It could have a far-reaching effect.”
Many who know Siwicki in Winnipeg’s music community came to his defence following his arrest, describing him as a “gentle soul” who was “not a danger to anyone.” On a Facebook page for Winnipeg musicians, friends said Siwicki took great care of his mother since his father died years ago.
“Ron has shaped his life and devoted himself to the ongoing care and support of his mother, sometimes forgoing opportunities both in business and in his social life,” wrote Michael Gillespie, who said he has known Siwicki for 35 years.
“Ron would often leave gatherings of friends earlier than others in order to attend to his mother. He stated, to me at least, that he accepted that his mother was his responsibility and I know he meant that sincerely.”
Henry Kreindler, another longtime friend, said Siwicki is a compassionate, caring person, who was devoted to his mother. He doesn’t deserve to be locked up like a criminal, he wrote.
“Ron always carried out his mother’s wishes,” he wrote. “Perhaps this was not a wise thing to do here.”