PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) - An Oregon woman who left the body of her 89-year-old mother outside of a Michigan thrift store was ordered Tuesday to stand trial on a murder charge.
A judge said there's enough evidence to show that Kelly Rhodes contributed to the March death of Mary Grenia, of Salem, Ore., a few days after they 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.
St. Clair County District Court Judge John Monaghan heard testimony in June but delayed his decision until Tuesday. He said he was influenced by some key points, including that Rhodes allegedly told another inmate after her arrest that she had been out of money and had denied food to her mother before she died.
Monaghan said leaving the body outside of a Goodwill Industries store was a "callous" act that signaled a "consciousness of guilt."
Rhodes, 49, is charged with an open count of murder, leaving it for the jury to decide whether it is first-degree or second-degree murder, should it convict her.
Defense attorney Sharon Parrish said Rhodes had no motive to have her mother die because they were living off Grenia's $3,000 monthly pension.
"If she had just called 911, we wouldn't have this case," Parrish told The Associated Press.
Rhodes and Grenia lived together in Oregon but made plans to move to Canada to live with an old acquaintance, Parrish said. They tried entering via a bridge 60 miles northeast of Detroit that connects Michigan and Ontario, but were denied and Rhodes didn't have a backup plan, Parrish said.
Grenia died inside the truck at a truck stop. The covered body was left outside a thrift store, where Rhodes also emptied the truck of other possessions. A surveillance camera recorded it.
"She was someone who was just not coping," Parrish told the AP. "She shouldn't have done that, clearly."