Manslaughter trial: Wife refuses offer to take sick husband to doctor

A medical professional was never seen visiting the house lived in by a woman on trial for the manslaughter of her sick husband.

The owner of the Māngere property – who also lived there – never saw Malia Li “do any work” to care for her husband but smelt urine, a courtroom heard.

Melenaite Feleti never saw a doctor or nurse at the house.

Feleti recommended Li take her husband to the doctor, but was told by Li not to worry.

Li has denied causing Lanitola Epenisa’s death from a blood infection, brought on from infected sores all over his body.

The Tongan national and father of two suffered two strokes in 2014 and could not walk or speak in his final days.

Feleti provided one room in her Māngere home for her cousin Li when her family needed somewhere to stay in January 2016, she told the jury.

Li’s daughter was seen caring for her father, and Feleti cooked him food sometimes too, she told the jury through a Tongan translator.

“I didn’t see Malia do any work.”

Feleti sometimes saw Epenisa on the verandah of the house in summertime, but she did not see him at all when the months grew colder.

“At times when I didn’t see anybody for a while … I would call from the hallway and ask if everything was alright.

“I can hear [Epenisa] saying ‘Yes’.

“I stopped going there because Malia told me not to go to [Epenisa] any more because he has his own food and drink and he’s alright.”

Epenisa was found fused to the armchair he died in by ambulance staff in October 2016, sitting in his own waste and with maggot pupae in his hip. Li was his sole and legal carer.

“I went straight into the room and saw [Epenisa]. It was not tidy and it was not clean,” Feletei told the courtroom.

“Very very bad smell. A smell that was stronger than faeces, more like a dead rat.”

Earlier this week visiting relatives recalled how they “could not breathe” because of the stench of urine in the room.

The trial at the High Court in Auckland is set down before Justice Edwin Wylie for six weeks.

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