Local Author Shares Troubling Experiences with Guardianship

Local author Teresa Lyles is sharing her experiences about guardianship and the rights of incapacitated individuals.

Teresa Lyles says she was very close with her mother, Carmen Tozzo, before 2011. Lyles says she was Tozzo's primary caregiver, until a family dispute ended in her siblings removing Tozzo from her custody. Tozzo was evaluated by Alachua County, in a competency hearing to determine her future.

Lyles says, "She was deamed incompetent, which means that you have no rights. She couldn't vote, she couldn't file a police report, she couldn't sue anybody. All of her constitutional rights were taken away, and she was put under a guardian."

Lyles says problems began with the guardian. "This permanent guardian literally started drugging her. Then she was drugged and removed from her home, and put in a lock down facility, also here in Gainesville."

Guardian care, Lyles claims, is what ultimately led to her mother's death. "She fell close to thirty times, while she was in both facilities. She was not given access to her money, she was not given access to her family."

Tozzo died at the age of 96, and Lyles says she didn't know how to cope. She eventually wrote a book, detailing their story, to bring awareness to situations like this. Lyles says, "What I want to do is raise awareness of this issue. It can happen anywhere, it happened here. I'm not the only that has gone through this experience."

Lyles explains her story more completely in her novel, "65 Minutes: A Tale of Torture and Murder in Guardianship."

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