Death Without Dignity

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Death Without Dignity
Cover image for Death Without Dignity.jpg
Author Steven Long
Country United States
Language English
Genre Non-fiction, True crime
Publisher Texas Monthly Press
Publication date
Mar 1987
Media type Hardcover
Pages 280 pgs
ISBN 0877190623

Death Without Dignity: The Story of the First Nursing Home Corporation Indicted for Murder is a true crime non-fiction book by American author Steven Long that was released in 1987 by Texas Monthly Press. It was Long's first book, written while he was publisher and editor of the alternative weekly newspaper In Between.


Death Without Dignity is a true account of the six-month 1985 trial of the State of Texas versus Autumn Hills Nursing Home and five executives of the corporate chain for the murder of an 87-year-old woman. The case was the first Texas corporation indicted for murder in one of the longest trials in Texas history, which was tried in San Antonio that resulted from charges that the Texas nursing home had mistreated and abused its patients.[1]

The book focuses on 87-year-old Elnora Breed, 73-year-old Edna Mae Witt, and 61 other patients and how they died while in the care of the facility. The Houston Post described the book as a "case study."[2] The reader is left to decide, the Post's Jimmie Woods wrote, "if this was a prosecution or -- as the defense insisted -- a persecution."

Autumn Hills Nursing Home was defended by attorney Thomas Sartwelle and prosecuted by then-Assistant District Attorney David Marks. It ended in a mistrial.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

The book was cited by Creighton Law Review as an illustration of corporations and malpractice titled "Malpractice Liability in Long-Term Care: A Changing Environment."[3]

Publishers Weekly called Death Without Dignity an "exposition of a major social problem inadequately funded by Social Security" where the author "credits a Galveston assistant district attorney for uncovering patient abuses, described here in harrowing detail, and doggedly pursuing the case despite political pressure from the powerful nursing home lobby and his own superiors."[4]

Kirkus Reviews magazine wrote that the book "serves as a useful reminder that the problem of what to do with disabled older citizens still remains to be adequately addressed in our society."[5]


The book won a 1987 Gavel Award from the State Bar of Texas for distinguished journalism.[6]


  1. ^ Death without dignity: the story of the first nursing home corporation indicted for murder - Steven Long - Google Boeken. Retrieved 2013-03-03. 
  2. ^ a b Jimmie Woods (April 19, 1987). "Legal questions and the end of life: a tale of Autumn Hills". United States: Houston Post. p. A1. 
  3. ^ Marshall B. Kapp (1990-'91, vol. 24, pg. 1253). "Malpractice Liability in Long-Term Care: A Changing Environment" (PDF). Creighton Law Review. Retrieved 2013-03-03.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ "Book Reviews, Bestselling Books & Publishing Business News". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2013-03-03. 
  5. ^ Long, Steven (1987-04-01). "DEATH WITHOUT DIGNITY: The Story of the First Nursing Home Corporation Indicted for Murder by Steven Long | Kirkus". Retrieved 2013-03-03. 
  6. ^ Steven Long. "Out of Control | Steven Long | Macmillan". Retrieved 2013-03-03. 

External links[edit]