• Trial begins for woman accused of stealing money from elderly York sisters

    By: Greg Suskin

    Updated:

    YORK, S.C. - A Waxhaw woman is accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from two elderly sisters who lived in York.

    Last summer, Eyewitness News brought you the story of the arrest of 54-year-old Shirley Patton. She's charged with breach of trust over $10,000 and exploitation of a vulnerable adult. On Monday, Patton went to trial on those charges.

    Those vulnerable adults were Mamie and Margie Miller. Both sisters lived together for their entire lives in the same house on East Jefferson Street in York. It was a home their parents had built. The sisters never married, and when they reached their 80s, they began to need a caregiver to come in and help them.

    "They needed someone to make sure they were eating, bathing and taking care of themselves," said assistant solicitor E.B. Springs to a York County jury on Monday.

    That person was Shirley Patton, who police said began to control the finances of the two sisters. She managed to get power of attorney, and police said she spent $200,000 of their money.

    When Mamie Miller died in the fall of 2010, a probate court judge raised concerns about where all life insurance money was going.

    Police said Patton had intercepted several checks in the mail, opened a bank account and deposited them. Because Margie Miller suffered from dementia, she never knew she was even supposed to receive the life insurance checks.

    Patton admitted spending $78,000 on renovations to her home in Waxhaw. However, her defense attorney, Charlie Johnson, told the jury she was renovating the house so Margie Miller could move in with her.

    "She added wheelchair access, added a bathroom and widened the hallways," Johnson said. "She was preparing the home for Margie Miller."

    Norma Ramsey remembers the Miller sisters well. She lived across the street from them for 40 years.

    "They were just lovely women. They were just as sweet as they could be," Ramsey said.

    She first met them when her church went Christmas caroling in the neighborhood years ago.

    When learning Monday about the trial of Patton, she became upset.

    "I want justice," she said. "I can't believe anybody could do such a thing to those nice ladies."

    Springs told the jury in his opening statement that Patton spent $26,000 of the Miller sisters’ money on herself.

    "On bills. The grocery store, the pharmacy," he said.

    Johnson countered by also talking about how Patton spent the money.

    "No diamond rings, no new cars or new clothes. There's no thief here. No stealing here," he said.

    Patton has four previous convictions for embezzlement in Charlotte and one for writing bad checks. She never served any prison time on those convictions.

    Margie Miller died in September, about a month after Patton's arrest. People who knew the two sisters told Channel 9 they only had distant relatives.

    None of them were in court Monday.

    Their house in York has sat empty ever since their deaths. The trial is expected to continue through Wednesday.

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