An El Cajon jury started deliberating Tuesday within the trial of a health care provider and nurse charged with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly failing to care for a girl whose well being quickly declined whereas in jail, resulting in her loss of life.
Friederike Von Lintig, 59, and Danalee Pascua, 39, are charged within the Nov. 11, 2019, loss of life of Elisa Serna on the Las Colinas Detention Facility in Santee.
Von Lintig was the doctor on responsibility on the day Serna died, whereas Pascua was the final nurse to see Serna simply earlier than her loss of life. They every resist 4 years in state jail if convicted in what’s a uncommon case of felony prices introduced in opposition to medical suppliers in reference to an inmate’s loss of life.
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 acknowledged the San Diego County Sheriff’s Division’s insurance policies and practices concerning inmate care had been poor. Serna’s household can be amongst many others which have sued the county in reference to a liked one’s in-custody loss of life.
Serna, 24, died from what a county medical expert decided was issues of power polysubstance abuse with a contributing issue of early intrauterine being pregnant. She was pronounced lifeless shortly after she collapsed in her cell within the jail’s medical commentary unit.
Throughout closing arguments in a trial that started greater than two weeks in the past, Deputy District Lawyer John Dunlap advised jurors Von Lintig and Pascua had been criminally negligent of their care of a lady whose situation was extreme, but might have been handled.
Prosecutors allege Serna was exhibiting apparent signs of withdrawal from alcohol and medicines, which included frequent vomiting and round a dozen seizures within the remaining 24 hours of her life.
These signs warranted a better degree of care, in accordance with prosecutors, who alleged Serna’s situation was at instances ignored. On different events, she was accused of faking seizure-like exercise and fainting spells that triggered her to repeatedly fall down in her cell.
Protection attorneys for each Von Lintig and Pascua argued their shoppers had been being scrutinized with the good thing about hindsight and that each had been working with info offered to them by others on the jail.
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.
Dunlap alleged that after analyzing Serna, Von Lintig “did subsequent to nothing” by way of treating her, apart from order that Serna to stay below commentary within the medical commentary unit, quite 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.
Just a few hours later, Serna “had one final hope” for satisfactory remedy within the type of Pascua, the prosecutor mentioned.
The nurse tried to take Serna’s very important indicators in her cell, however Serna collapsed, struck her head in opposition to the wall, and started experiencing yet one more seizure.
Dunlap alleged Pascua didn’t end taking Serna’s very important indicators after her collapse.
As an alternative, he mentioned, she left the cell and sat at a nursing station located a number of ft away for the subsequent hour, throughout which period Serna lay on the ground along 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 seem like respiration, at which level emergency medical personnel had been summoned. She was pronounced lifeless shortly thereafter.
“They didn’t deal with her and she or he died because of this,” Dunlap mentioned. “Elisa Serna’s time on the Las Colinas Detention Facility didn’t must be a loss of life sentence.”
Von Lintig’s lawyer, Dana Grimes, advised jurors her shopper was very involved about Serna’s situation and that if she didn’t care, she wouldn’t have ordered that Serna be stored below commentary.
The lawyer famous that not one of the different medical professionals who noticed Serna described her signs as seizures and that on Nov. 11, Von Lintig was working with an incomplete image of Serna’s situation. Grimes mentioned Von Lintig by no means witnessed any of Serna’s seizure signs or situations of vomiting.
She additionally mentioned that the nurses who referred to as for Von Lintig late that afternoon didn’t talk that it was something approaching an emergency.
The trial included differing accounts of Von Lintig’s response to being summoned to Serna’s cell, with one deputy saying Von Lintig claimed Serna was faking her signs. Different accounts indicate Von Lintig was unsure what was needed of her.
Grimes mentioned that if Von Lintig was conscious of the seriousness of the scenario, she “would have rushed over” to see Serna.
Pascua’s protection lawyer, Alicia Freeze, mentioned her shopper didn’t trigger Serna’s loss of life and that in accordance with testimony from medical consultants, Serna’s place mendacity in opposition to the wall didn’t play a task.
Freeze argued Pascua didn’t immediately witness Serna’s fall and from her vantage level, it appeared Serna was slowly sliding down the cell’s wall right into a sitting place.
As with Von Lintig, Freeze mentioned Pascua was not privy on the time to video proof that might have proven her that Serna was experiencing seizures and quite a few falls.
Whereas Von Lintig and Pascua are the one individuals charged among the many medical professionals and sheriff’s deputies who encountered Serna in her remaining days, Dunlap acknowledged that jurors might really feel that others may 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.
A trial transient filed by the prosecution states that a number of different individuals, lots of whom had been witnesses who testified in the course of the trial, had been additionally accountable for Serna’s care, however their testimony wouldn’t open them as much as felony legal responsibility.
In response to the transient, “Essentially the most critical relevant cost in regard to Ms. Serna’s loss of life is involuntary manslaughter … a criminal offense for which the statute of limitations has expired.”
Metropolis Information Service contributed to this text.