Prosecutors have dismissed charges against one of the Piatt County residents accused of criminal neglect following the death of a 64-year-old Monticello man last year.
Charges against Justin Tatman, 38, of Bement, were dismissed in Piatt County Court on Monday. Tatman, along with Christie Brown, 62; and Mason Brown, 35, both of Monticello, had been charged with criminal abuse or neglect of an elderly person after the death of Ronald Blankenship – the brother of Christy Brown and uncle of Mason Brown.
“Initially, it appeared that Justin Tatman held a caretaker role to the victim. Subsequent investigation revealed that Justin Tatman did not hold a caretaker role to the victim, as he did not reside with the victim and was not a family member to the victim,” Piatt County State's Attorney Dana Rhoades said in explaining the reason the charges were dropped.
Charges remain against the other two defendants. Earlier this week, the trials of Christie Brown and Mason Brown were continued from July 1 to Oct. 7. The defense filed for the extension in the case of Christy Brown to accommodate a change in law firms defending her, and the prosecution filed for the continuation in Mason Brown's case to match the time frame of his co-defendant.
The two also face charges of animal cruelty. Authorities took four dogs and three cats from the home, and two dogs were euthanized shortly after due to poor health.
Blankenship was found dead in his house in the 300 block of West Monroe Street on Aug. 23, 2018. Police described the conditions in the home as “deplorable,” especially in Mr. Blankenship's bed.