A former respiratory therapist has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of a former patient who died in 2002, reports KTTN news.
Jennifer Anne Hall waived a formal arraignment to enter a not guilty plea in Division One of Livingston County Circuit Court on September 8, KTTN says.
The 42-year-old woman has been charged with murdering Fern Franco on May 18, 2002, while working at Hedrick Medical Center in Missouri, according to the probable cause statement.
During her employment there from December 16, 2001 to May 21, 2002, the rates of cardiac arrests, or “Code Blues” rose alarmingly, causing hospital employees to deem the incidents “medically suspicious”, the probable cause statement says. Of the 18 “Code Blues” that occured when Hall worked there, nine patients died, and suspicions were raised over the fact that Hall found and reported each Code, the statement adds.
Hall and a co-worker discovered Fern Franco deceased after battling pneumonia, the statement says. Hall’s co-worker told police that Hall was near and even entered Franco’s room at the time of the code, which the co-worker said was unusual for a respiratory therapist, the statement says.
The autopsy revealed that despite the 75-year-old patient only receiving atropine and epinephrine during her resuscitation efforts, tissue samples revealed the presence of succinylcholine and morphine, neither of which were prescribed to Franco, the statement says.
Succinylcholine, the statement adds, paralyzes muscles and the diaphragm, causing the victim to suffocate while being completely aware of what is happening, while morphine suppresses respiration.
Hall was put on administrative leave on May 18, 2002, after which the “Code Blue” rates returned to the previous frequency of one a year, the statement says.
Her next court hearing for a plea or trial setting is scheduled for October.