Jennifer Hall, a former respiratory therapist in Missouri, has received an 18-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to charges related to the deaths of two hospital patients. Originally facing two counts of first-degree murder, Hall entered a guilty plea in April for reduced charges of first-degree involuntary manslaughter in connection with the deaths of Fern Franco, 75, and David Wesley Harper, 37.
She also admitted to one count of attempted second-degree assault. The sentencing took place on Friday, as reported by KCTV-TV.
The fatalities of Franco and Harper were part of a series of concerning incidents at Hedrick Medical Center in Chillicothe in 2002, during which nine patients died under circumstances described as “medically suspicious” in charging documents.
Adam Warren, Livingston County Prosecuting Attorney, remarked, “A sentence 20 years in the making.” He acknowledged that while Hall could eventually be eligible for parole, her current incarceration provides a sense of relief: “But for now, we all sleep better knowing she is behind bars.”
Jennifer Hall began her employment at the hospital in December 2001 and continued until administrative leave was imposed on her in May of the following year. During this period, there were an unusually high number of cardiac arrests or “Code Blue” events, reaching 18 incidents, a significant increase from the previous average of one per year.
The case was revived after a thorough analysis of tissue samples from Fern Franco revealed the presence of morphine and a potent muscle relaxant used in anesthesia. Neither of these drugs had been prescribed or authorized by her doctors.
Investigators subsequently focused their attention on Hall due to her close proximity to the affected patients, her access to dangerous pharmaceuticals, and her consistent notification of staff during each patient’s cardiac emergency, as detailed in court documents.
Despite her earlier denials of any involvement in the deaths, the evidence led to Hall’s plea and subsequent sentencing.”