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Woman, 83, who killed her husband will remain in psych center

Phyllis Eson, 83, accused of beating her 89-year-old husband to death last year, is doing well at the Rochester Psychiatric Center and now it is possible she will spend the rest of her days there.

Two mental health experts who performed court-ordered examinations of Eson this spring determined that she should be classified as dangerously mentally ill.

In light of those evaluations, State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia said Tuesday he will sign a commitment order for Eson to remain in a secure treatment facility. He told prosecutors and defense attorney Daniel P. Grasso that Eson will be subject to periodic reviews of her mental condition.

In April, Eson entered a plea that she was not responsible in her husband’s death by reason of mental disease or defect. She had been charged with first-degree manslaughter after attacking Norman Eson on July 6, 2014, in their home on Hawthorne Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda.

Norman Eson had Alzheimer’s disease, and a subsequent psychiatric evaluation showed that his wife, who also was his caregiver, also was suffering from dementia.

Following her plea in April, Eson was transferred from the Erie County Holding Center to a secure section of the Rochester facility. Grasso told the court Tuesday that he had visited with his client and the staff there several times.

“They like her as a patient and she enjoys, as much as she can, being there,” Grasso said. “I think she understands more now than she has in the past. She is more lucid than I have ever seen her before, and that is shown by the great sense of remorse that she now has.”

Eson, using a wheelchair, was able to be in court for the hearing. While she did not speak on her own behalf, she did respond to her attorney and appeared aware of the proceedings.

Assistant District Attorney Colleen Curtin Gable, who handled prosecution of the case, previously said that Eson had admitted to town police that, on the day her husband died, she hit him on the head with a remote control device, a cellphone and her hands, and later banged his head on a baseboard when trying to drag him across the floor.

When he began bleeding, Eson called family and friends, who told her to call 911, but she didn’t, Gable said. Someone else later made the call.

After Tuesday’s hearing, Grasso said Eson has been responding well at the psychiatric center and is far less anxious and agitated. She is a Canadian citizen and she and her husband moved to the Buffalo area about nine years ago.