Attorney General charges Mesa County caregivers for the death of 86-year-old resident in their care; Care facility responds with statement

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 11:50 AM MDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2021 at 7:54 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - The Office of Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser has filed charges against three caregivers at the Cappella Assisted Living and Memory Care facility in Grand Junction. The caregivers Jamie Johnston, 30, Jenny Logan, 50, and Letticia Martinez, 27 have been accused of being responsible for the death of 86-year-old resident Hazel Place.

An investigation was conducted by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Colorado Department of Law and the Grand Junction Police Department. The investigation found that Place was left outside in the heat for six hours.

“She sat out there for 6 hours in over 100 degree temperature,” said daughter Donna Golden. “Without 1 person checking on her. They knew her routine, knew what she did. And not one of them decided to check on her the whole time. So she sits out there & passes away.”

Donna says her mother, Hazel, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s & Dementia, and according to the family, was suppose to be checked on every hour.

“She was on a 1 hour check because she was a fall risk,” said son Dave Place. “So there’s 5-6 hours that she wasn’t checked on at all. No water, no nothing.”

Hazel’s family says their mother liked being outside. They say the director of Cappella told the family between 2-2:30 in the afternoon, Hazel went outside to the courtyard. She was reportedly not found until 8:30 that evening.

“She died because of neglect, she didn’t need to,” said Donna. “She was 86 years old with dementia, they needed to watch her. Every hour she should’ve been checked and she wasn’t. So now not only to deal with the loss of her, but knowing how she suffered, and it could’ve been prevented. She did not have to die that day.”

The Attorney General’s office has filed charges against three caregivers who worked at the facility. According to the criminal complaints filed in Mesa County District Court, the three individuals have been charged with the negligent death of an at-risk person (Class Four Felony) and criminally negligent homicide (Class Five Felony). Johnston and Martinez have also been charged with second-degree forgery (Class One Misdemeanor).

Jamie Johnston, Jenny Logan, and Letticia Martinez are facing several charges including the negligent death of an at-risk person and criminally negligent homicide. Two of them are charged with second-degree forgery.

“We appreciate the collaborative effort put forth by all agencies involved during the process of this investigation,” said Sergeant Sean Crocker of the Grand Junction Police Department. “Cases of this nature are not only difficult for the family and friends of the victim, but for all those involved. We are thankful that the outcome of this investigation will provide some closure to the family.”

“When our loved ones are vulnerable and in need of care, Colorado residents should be able to trust their caregivers implicitly,” Weiser said. “My department is committed to holding accountable those who take advantage of and cause harm to our state’s older residents.”

Cappella Assisted Living and Memory Care facility released a statement this afternoon in response to the attorney general’s press release.

The statement reads:

“We are aware that the Colorado Attorney General’s office filed criminal negligence charges against three care partners in connection with the death of a resident earlier this summer.

While we cannot share details regarding this resident’s passing, we do want you to know that we immediately reported the circumstances surrounding the resident’s passing to the appropriate regulatory agencies and launched our own internal investigation. Additionally, we have cooperated with the Colorado Attorney General’s investigation of this matter.

Our internal investigation resulted in the dismissal of two team members, who were subsequently charged by the Colorado Attorney General. The third team member is now on investigatory leave.

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.

At this time, we cannot make any other further comments as we focus on the support of residents, team members, and families and honor the right to privacy of all involved during this process.

We care for each other. It is one of our most deeply held values as a community, and the ideal we strive for in our daily work in creating a wonderful community where older adults share in making a home.”

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