Nurse pleads not guilty

By From page A1 | May 01, 2013

A motion to dismiss charges against a director of nurses, charged with elder abuse in connection with the death of a patient, was denied and a trial date was set Friday morning.

Judge Daniel B. Proud said to defendant Donna Palmer and her attorney, Patrick Hanly, that he would first make a ruling regarding a motion to unseal a video and transcripts for use in trial. He allowed the motion to pass and said that Judge James R. Wagoner in Department 1 would be making a ruling on the motion to dismiss charges.

After moving across the hall, Wagoner noted that he had read all of the documents surrounding the case, and that the file had “an enormous amount of material. It reads more like a trial transcript than a preliminary transcript.”

The judge noted that the testimony of Donna Pieler during the preliminary hearing was called into question, but he said it was not his job, as part of a motion, to “reevaluate that evidence,” but to simply see if there was any evidence to proceed. He said that there was, and thus would be denying the motion to dismiss charges.

After hustling back to Department 2, Hanly entered a not guilty plea with special allegations denied on behalf of Palmer.

A trial date of Aug. 6 was made, estimated to take 15 trial days. Deputy Attorney General Steven Muni noted that the trial should be done by Aug. 26. A readiness and settlement hearing was scheduled for June 24 at 1:30 p.m.

Palmer has been charged with elder abuse after patient Johnnie Esco, 77, died after receiving care at El Dorado Care Center, where Palmer was director of nurses in 2008. Her husband, Don, testified against Palmer before dying on Oct. 8, 2012. A former co-defendant, nurse Rebecca Smith, took a plea deal of five years of probation on condition that she testify against Palmer.

Cole Mayer

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