A former respiratory therapist charged with murdering two of her patients has entered her second “not guilty” plea, according to KTTN.
On April 4, 2023, 42-year-old Jennifer Anne Hall pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter and second-degree attempted assault, KTTN says.
The criminal complaint accuses her of murdering Fern Franco, a 75-year-old pneumonia patient. Nurses found Franco deceased on the morning of May 18, 2002. A colleague reported that Hall had been in the vicinity of Franco’s room at the time and had entered the room with the colleague during resuscitation efforts. Despite only being given atropine and epinephrine, later testing showed the presence of succinylcholine and morphine.
Succinylcholine, a muscle relaxant which the statement explains “paralyzes the victim’s muscles, including the diaphragm, causing the victim to suffer a ghastly death from suffocation while still maintaining full consciousness and awareness that they are unable to breathe,” was also the cause of death for another patient prosecutors accuse Hall of murdering.
David Wesley Harper, a 37-year-old bronchitis patient, was admitted to Hedrick Medical Center where Hall worked at the time, on March 18, 2002, according to that criminal complaint. During an overnight stay during which Harper participated in a sleep study, he was found unresponsive in his room. Upon declaring a “Code Blue,” nurses began resuscitation efforts, but the exhaustive efforts couldn’t save Harper.
During the resuscitation efforts and clean up of Harper’s room, the complaint explains that a vial of succinylcholine was allegedly found in Hall’s pocket; a medication for which Hall was not certified to give anyone. It wasn’t her job as a respiratory therapist to do so. Succinylcholine wasn’t used during Harper’s resuscitation efforts, according to medical records, and was stored on the stash cart to which Hall had access.
On March 1, 2023, Hall entered a “not guilty” plea for the Harper case, KTTN says. She has also been charged with a felony of filing false documents in Livingston County from May 12, 2002.
In the Harper case, Hall is scheduled to appear in court on April 12, 2023 to set or waive a preliminary hearing, KTTN says. The May 15 trial has been canceled due to the state being granted leave to file first amendment information, for which the trial was transferred to the Supreme Court.