Crime 3 Assisted Living Workers Charged in Death of Resident Left Outside in Heat for 6 Hours
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Following the death of an 86-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease who was allegedly left outside in the heat for six hours, prosecutors have filed charges against three assisted living facility workers responsible for her care, the Associated Press reported.
National Weather Service data shows that the temperature hit 102 degrees in Grand Junction, Colorado, on the day Hazel Place died at Cappella Assisted Living and Memory on June 14. Jamie Johnson, 30, Jenny Logan, 50, and Letticia Martinez, 27, were charged with two felonies, negligent death of an at-risk person and criminally negligent homicide, according to Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.
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The Daily Sentinel reported that Johnston and Martinez were also charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly forging patient records, according to court documents.
"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," Donna Golden, Place's daughter, said, according to the AP.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
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.
Johnston's lawyer, Havilah Lilly, said in a Wednesday interview with the AP 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.
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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.
Place could walk and did so frequently in a routine that was familiar to caregivers, but she was supposed to be checked on every hour because she was at risk of falling, according to her daughter.
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.
Climate change, heat waves affect heart health, experts say. Here's why that puts people of color at higher risk. .
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found Indigenous people had the highest rates of heat-related deaths, followed by Black people. Researchers are finding that extreme heat and air pollution have major effects on cardiovascular health, and heat-related deaths and hospitalizations have been linked to cardiovascular disease. The Biden administration announced Sept. 20 it will implement new enforcement measures to protect indoor and outdoor workers from extreme heat through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.