February 29, 2024
Elisa Serna. Courtesy handout

A nurse was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter Friday for the demise of an inmate at a San Diego County girls’s jail, however jurors have been unable to succeed in a verdict in opposition to a physician additionally dealing with manslaughter costs in reference to the lady’s demise.

Following simply over two days of deliberations, Danalee Pascua, 39, was discovered not responsible by an El Cajon jury of inflicting the Nov. 11, 2019, demise of Elisa Serna on the Las Colinas Detention Facility in Santee.

Jurors additionally voted 9-3 in favor of acquitting Friederike Von Lintig, 59, the doctor on responsibility the day Serna died. Von Lintig will likely be again in courtroom Wednesday for a listening to to find out whether or not prosecutors will retry the case in opposition to her.

Serna, 24, died shortly after she collapsed in her cell within the jail’s medical statement unit.

Prosecutors argued Pascua left Serna on the ground of her cell for about an hour earlier than summoning emergency medical personnel.

Additionally they alleged Von Lintig offered substandard take care of Serna, who they mentioned was exhibiting apparent signs of drug and alcohol withdrawal, together with frequent vomiting and seizures.

Whereas her withdrawal signs have been extreme, Serna’s situation may have been handled, prosecutors argued, but she was typically ignored or accused of faking her signs.

Serna died from what a county medical expert decided have been issues of continual polysubstance abuse with a contributing issue of early intrauterine being pregnant.

Protection attorneys for each Von Lintig and Pascua argued their purchasers have been being scrutinized with the advantage of hindsight.

Von Lintig’s legal professional, Dana Grimes, advised jurors her consumer was working with an incomplete image of Serna’s situation whereas treating her. Grimes mentioned Nov. 11 was the primary day Von Lintig handled Serna and that she by no means witnessed any of Serna’s seizure signs or cases of vomiting.

Pascua’s legal professional, Alicia Freeze, mentioned the nurse was following normal nursing protocol and that in response to testimony from medical consultants, Serna’s place mendacity on the ground and in opposition to the wall didn’t play a task in her demise.

Within the early afternoon of Nov. 11, Von Lintig and others responded to Serna’s cell after she started exhibiting seizure-like signs whereas in a wheelchair.

Deputy District Legal professional John Dunlap alleged that after inspecting Serna, Von Lintig “did subsequent to nothing” by way of treating her, aside from order that Serna to stay below statement within the medical statement unit, slightly than return to the jail’s basic inhabitants.

Hours later, Serna suffered one other seizure that led nurses to name for Von Lintig’s help, Dunlap mentioned. However the physician by no means responded to Serna’s cell and as a substitute left the jail for the day as her shift got here to an in depth.

A number of hours later, Pascua’s shift began and whereas trying to take Serna’s important indicators in her cell, Serna collapsed, struck her head in opposition to the wall, and started experiencing one more seizure.

Dunlap alleged Pascua didn’t end taking Serna’s important indicators after her collapse.

As an alternative, he mentioned, she left the cell and sat at a nursing station located just a few ft away for the subsequent hour, throughout which period Serna lay on the ground together with her head slumped ahead and propped up in opposition to the wall, and urinated herself.

Pascua later observed Serna was pale and didn’t look like respiratory, at which level emergency medical personnel have been summoned. She was pronounced useless shortly thereafter.

Whereas Von Lintig and Pascua have been the one folks charged among the many medical professionals and sheriff’s deputies who encountered Serna in her ultimate days, Dunlap acknowledged that jurors might really feel that others could be accountable or that there have been “many failures” amongst these entrusted with Serna’s care.

“Nobody deserves any awards for his or her conduct on this case,” Dunlap mentioned.

The case represented a uncommon occasion of prison costs introduced in opposition to medical suppliers in reference to an inmate’s demise.

Von Lintig and Pascua’s licenses have been suspended consequently and the state medical board additionally filed an accusation in opposition to one other physician who handled Serna on the jail.

The excessive fee of deaths at San Diego County jails has drawn criticism and scrutiny from the general public and officers, with the California State Auditor publishing a scathing report in 2022 that said the San Diego County Sheriff’s Division’s insurance policies and practices relating to inmate care have been poor.

Serna’s household can also be amongst many others which have sued the county in reference to a beloved one’s in-custody demise. Their civil case stays ongoing in San Diego federal courtroom.

–Metropolis Information Service