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Caregiver imprisoned disabled woman for over 10 years, took phone and walker, prosecutors say

“Once she took over the caretaking role, she took over all aspects of their lives,” a prosecutor said of Shirley Montano, 53.

A former caregiver in San Diego, California, was sentenced to 13 years in state prison Friday for abusing elderly and disabled people who were under her care.

Shirley Montano, 53, pleaded guilty in January to false imprisonment of an elder, perjury by false information, and voluntary manslaughter.

She was accused of contributing to the death of a 74-year-old man and holding a 59-year-old disabled woman hostage.

Image: Shirley Montano
Shirley Montano.KNSD

The woman, Josefina, was allegedly imprisoned by Montano for at least 11 years and possibly as long as 23 years, according to NBC San Diego.

Josefina was found beaten and starved in Montano’s apartment, according to prosecutors. She weighed 81 pounds at one point when under the care of Montano, who allegedly had taken the woman's phone and walker, according to The Associated Press and NBC San Diego.

Montano sought out people who were vulnerable, Deputy District Attorney Shanish Aloor said.

“Once she took over the caretaking role, she took over all aspects of their lives,” Aloor said. “She was able to take over benefits and every other aspect of their lives.”

The 74-year-old man died of pneumonia in 2016, but an autopsy found that severe malnutrition contributed to his death. The medical examiner couldn’t determine if he had been intentionally starved, the AP reported.

Montano's lawyer said she cared deeply for the elderly man and the disabled woman and did not mean to harm them.