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A 60-year-old woman accused of trying to kill a 92-year-old man last week was charged with attempted murder and felony elder abuse today. Donna Lee Darling pleaded not guilty through her privately retained defense attorney.

Herb Weston said his client had a relationship with the old man “like an adopted daughter.”

Prosecutor Ryan Saunders said that Donna Darling “stands to gain when he passes away” and “she is in his will.”

The prosecutor stated that a caretaker in another part of the man’s trailer-home heard something and the caretaker came into his room and witnessed what she thought was Donna Darling trying to suffocate the elderly man. The alleged victim had a sweatshirt “shoved in his mouth” and if it weren’t for the caretaker, “he would be dead,” according to prosecutor Saunders.

But the accused woman, Donna Lee Darling, lingered after the alleged attack and made conversation and “had cookies,” according to defense attorney Herb Weston. The defense attorney suggested that the elderly man has been doing “strange things” and has “changing personality” and he hinted at “dementia.”

Prosecutor Ryan Saunders said it wasn’t until after Donna Darling finally left that the caretaker was alone with the 90-year-old man and could ask about the suspicious marks on his face – then the alleged victim revealed that he was “scared” and he did believe Donna Darling tried to suffocate him. Family and paramedics and police were called, according to Oceanside Police, who issued a statement the day after the alleged incident.

The elderly man was taken to hospital and treated for “minor facial injuries” and then released, according to Oceanside Police Lieutenant Leonard Mata.

Defendant Donna Darling did not live with the elderly man in the mobile home park on Blue Sky Lane, according to police.

Judge Richard Mills set bail at $500,000 today. All parties are expected back in court Friday, August 24, to make a new argument for bail.

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