Cobb County

‘We have waited for this day’: Former caregiver guilty, sentenced to 20 years for elderly abuse

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — The family of an elderly woman told Channel 2 Action News they can breathe a little easier after the caregiver who abused her received her sentence.

Prosecutors say the caregiver disappeared right before the jury returned its verdict. Shelia Knight was captured 8 days later. The family of Pearl Conner, 86 asked for the maximum sentence. And got it.

Channel 2′s Tom Jones watched as Conner’s family came out of the Cobb County Courthouse excited and waving sheets of paper.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

“We have the guilty verdicts and sentencing sheet,” they shouted. They all said they needed the sheets with the charges and sentence to have tangible evidence they received justice. “This is the birth of the truth. That we got justice for my mother,” Lucile Blalock said.

It was back in 2019 when prosecutors say Knight violently pushed the frail Conner down inside her home. It was Knight’s job to take care of the retired great-grandmother. Conner’s family had installed cameras and looked at the video and saw what happened. Conner suffered a shattered hip and died 8 months later. The family says she was never the same after Knight assaulted her.

A jury found Knight guilty of Aggravated Battery and Elder Abuse in September. But Knight wasn’t there to hear it. “When the verdict comes in the defendant flees the jurisdiction,” Assistant District Attorney John Tully told the Judge.

Knight was on the run for eight days before she was captured. There was extra security during her sentencing.

“We have waited for this day for so long,” Keecia Scott testified during her Victim’s Impact statement.

Conner’s family explained how they never thought someone they hired to take care of their loved one would hurt her.

“I am asking that you give her the maximum sentence,” Lucile Blalock stated.


But Knight said she did nothing wrong. She said Conner attacked her. “When she attacked me I got scared. The video had been altered,” Knight told the court.

Superior Court Judge Angela Brown didn’t buy it. “That will be 20 years to serve,” she told Knight.

Conner’s family says they wanted to hold off going to her grave until she got justice. “Now she can finally rest in peace. We can go see her grave and cheer,” Asia Wilkins said outside court.

ADA Tully said since Knight is a repeat offender with three felonies, she will have to serve her 20 year sentence without parole.

Conner’s family says they hope to shine a light on elder abuse and represent the families who don’t get a measure of closure that they are getting.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]