Preachers Update

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A couple accused of elderly abuse is fighting back. Their attorney Waylon Graham says they did everything to try and protect Lester and Beulah Hale, but Panama City police investigators say James and Elaine Sansom took advantage of the Hale’s and eventually caused their death.

Investigators say the Sansom’s swindled Beulah and Lester Hale out of thousands of dollars and failed to provide proper medical treatment for the ailing couple, but the Sansom’s attorney says that's just not true.

"I don't want to say the police are lying to you all but they are definitely misleading you."

Fifty-four-year old James and 52-year-old Elaine Sansom turned themselves into police early Tuesday morning to face charges of elderly exploitation and neglect. The couple is pastors of the Zion ministries on Foster Avenue where the Hale’s went to church. The Hale’s lived at the Carriage Inn retirement home. Employees there say the Sansom's, through hospice, withheld food and water from the Hale’s, claiming they were terminally ill.

Carriage Inn workers say the Sansom’s took the Hale's clocks, personal possessions and even family pictures to make them feel as if their life was over. Employees say they filed several complaints but nothing ever happened.

Waylon Graham tells a different story, claiming he Hale’s family doctors referred them to Hospice. He says the Sansom’s are the true victims.

"The Sansom’s took care of the Mr. and Mrs. Hale. The Hale’s family members had basically deserted them and the Sansom’s took them to get groceries and drove them everywhere, and the Hale’s wanted to give what they had to them. Then the family showed up and said we want our share. Then they went to the police and started claiming the Sansom’ stole it."

According to court documents drawn up by a local attorney the Hale’s gave power of attorney to the Sansom’s. At the same time the Hales named the Sansom’s as their health care surrogates putting the pastors in charge of their health as well.