3 charged in death of 86-year-old woman left outside in heat

Health

DENVER (AP) — Three assisted living facility workers are being prosecuted in the death of an 86-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease who authorities alleged was left outside in sweltering weather for six hours, officials said.

Jamie Johnston, 30, Jenny Logan, 50, and Letticia Martinez, 27, were charged with negligent death of an at risk person and criminally negligent homicide, both felonies, in the death of Hazel Place at Cappella Assisted Living and Memory in Grand Junction on June 14, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced Tuesday.

Johnston and Martinez were also charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly forging patient records, according to court documents describing the charges.

Weiser’s office, which investigated Place’s death through its Medicaid fraud unit in conjunction with Grand Junction police, did not provide details about how Place died. National Weather Service data shows that the high temperature in Grand Junction that day was 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.9 Celsius).

Johnston’s lawyer, Havilah Lilly, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday that Johnston is presumed innocent. Lilly also said Johnston was concerned that the assisted living center has not been held accountable but declined further comment since she has not yet received evidence in the case.

Court records did not list a lawyer representing Logan and Martinez is represented by a lawyer from the public defender’s office, which does not comment on cases.

When asked if the facility’s operators could also possibly face charges, Weiser’s spokesman, Lawrence Pacheco, said he could not comment beyond what the office has released because the case is active. The court documents detailing the evidence gathered against the workers have been sealed, he said.

Place could walk and did so frequently in a routine that was familiar to caregivers, but was supposed to be checked on every hour because she was at risk of falling, her daughter, Donna Golden, told The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction.

“What it boils down to, as the caregivers that day and probably on other days, none of them were doing their job. Not a one of them checked her,” she said.

Cappella Assisted Living and Memory said in a statement that it reported the circumstances surrounding Place’s death to regulators and conducted an internal investigation which led to the dismissal of two of the workers. The third worker was placed on “investigatory leave,” the statement said.

“We are very saddened by the passing of this beloved resident, and we continue to send our sincerest sympathy to this resident’s family and friends,” the statement said.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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