Former Missouri therapist sentenced to 18 years in prison for the deaths of two patients

Due to her proximity to the affected patients and her access to deadly pharmaceuticals, Jennifer Hall was caught in her relationship the deaths of patients

Jennifer Hall was initially charged with two counts of first-degree murder, but pleaded guilty in April to reduced charges of first-degree manslaughter for the deaths of Fern Franco, 75, and David Wesley Harper, 37. She also pleaded guilty to one count of attempted second-degree assault. As such, the former Missouri therapist was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Franco and Harper were among nine patients who died at Hedrick Medical Center in Chillicothe over several months in 2002 in what charging documents describe as “medically suspicious” events.

“A 20-year sentence,” said Livingston County Prosecutor Adam Warren. He noted that Hall will eventually be eligible for parole. “But for now, we all sleep better knowing she’s behind bars,” he said.

From December 2001, when Hall began working at the hospital, until she was placed on administrative leave the following May, there were also 18 cardiac arrests or “Code Blue” events, up from an average of one a year earlier.

The case was revived after an analysis of Franco’s tissue samples found morphine and a powerful muscle relaxant used in anesthesia in her system. His doctors did not prescribe or order any drugs, investigators said.

Some hospital staff members believed Hall was responsible because of his proximity to the affected patients, his access to deadly pharmaceuticals and because he notified staff of each patient’s cardiac emergency, according to court documents.

Hall had previously denied any involvement in the deaths, so the families of patients who died during Hall’s employment later sued the hospital, sparking an investigation and later, the woman’s link to the deaths.

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