Judge Rejects Plea Deal for Ms. Hepatitis C

Kristen Diane Parker, "Ms. Hepatitis C" appeared in federal court in Denver today for sentencing. She had a plea agreement for a 20 year sentence. The judge said no dice.

As part of her plea deal, she had to explain on video how she committed the crime.

Some new revelations came out in the video. One of the issues between the surgery patients at Rose Hospital and Rose is that Rose only has been willing to compensate patients who developed the disease if there is a 95% or greater chance their Hepatitis C came from Parker. Some of the patients who subsequently developed the disease appear to have a different strain. [More...]

On the video, Parker said she sometimes brought the stolen fentanyl home and others besides her shot it up and then she would take the dirty needles which she had filled with saline back to Rose and replace them (where they were given to surgery patients.) So, Parker not only allowed herself to infect patients, she may have allowed others to do so.

“Were there other people at your house that possibly could have had access to the needles?” asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Pena in the debriefing.

“Yes,” Parker admitted tearfully.

“Other drug users?” Pena pressed.

In court today, the Judge said the 20 year plea deal did not give him enough discretion and leeway in sentencing Parker, and didn't take into consideration the depositions of the victims. Because the plea was under Rule 11 ©(1)©, she now gets to withdraw her guilty plea and go to trial, or she and the Government can come up with another agreement that will meet with the Judge's approval.

Her guidelines for the counts to which she pleaded guilty were 235 to 293 months. Had she gone to trial on just the counts she pleaded guilty to and lost, she probably would not have received 3 points for acceptance of responsibility and her guidelines would have been 324 - 405 months.

According to the stipulated facts in the plea agreement, 35 of the infected patients had a match for Hepatitis C, Genotype 1b associated with Parker. More elaborate genetic sequencing testing was performed in 16 cases, and in all of them, it was determined with 97% probability that Parker was the source of these patients' infections.

And now, there are patients with a different strain who possibly were infected from others Parker allowed to use the fentanyl-filled needles.

But, isn't there a problem? She gave the videotaped statement as part of her plea agreement. The agreement states that if she fully cooperates, information obtained statements she gives during her cooperation won't be used against her at sentencing. If the plea deal is withdrawn, how can they use her admissions about others using the needles against her, when she is the only source for the information? I don't think they can. I think the Judge could max her out using a variety of other reasons, but not that one.

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    IMO (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:24:38 PM EST
    they should throw away the key
    that is one of the vilest things I have ever  heard.

    Will k dog agree this is a worthy (none / 0) (#9)
    by oculus on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 03:13:14 PM EST
    case for the trial court to put this woman "in a cage"?

    I must admit (none / 0) (#11)
    by Zorba on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 03:24:50 PM EST
    that I am far more worried about the people she infected than I am about her.  Hep C is not a benign infection.  Those infected may suffer liver damage, up to and including liver failure.

    I'm finding it damn hard.... (none / 0) (#14)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 05:09:02 PM EST
    to argue with this one oc...like Cap said, this is vile.

    I totally see how she can be placed in the "gives us no choice" category...a true menace to society.

    I'll tell ya this...I firmly believe her addiction should be given no consideration what so ever when it comes to leniency or mercy...as someone who wants the freedom to do drugs, with that comes the full responsibility of your actions on drugs.


    I coulldn't have predicted you would (none / 0) (#16)
    by oculus on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 05:12:47 PM EST
    express what you do in your final paragraph.  Freedom of choice to start taking habit-forming drugs.  But, is there a point at which she had no choice?

    No... (none / 0) (#20)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 05:23:23 PM EST
    she always had a choice...as her addiction worsened it became harder and harder...but always a choice.

    Did she? (none / 0) (#22)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 07:49:31 PM EST
    She had jaw surgery. Her physician gave her these legal, highly addicting drugs...it escalated.

    If we're all slaves to substances... (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by kdog on Sat Jan 23, 2010 at 07:45:57 AM EST
    "cold turkey" wouldn't be a phrase in our vernacular.  It can be done.

    I ain't sayin' its easy...but you always have a choice.  


    Inevitable discovery? (none / 0) (#2)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:31:00 PM EST
    I assume they can connect the needles to her, so couldn't they also connect the DNA on them to other people?  If any of them have records, the DNA would lead the state to them and then it would be pretty easy to figure out the connection between them and Parker?

    they won't know the names of the other people (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:35:17 PM EST
    to test unless she identifies them, except perhaps if they are in a DNA database somewhere. Unless they've had there DNA tested for committing a crime, I doubt they are in one.

    That's what I meant (none / 0) (#5)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:47:22 PM EST
    Maybe I'm overreaching here, but if they are all drug users, possibly they have been arrested before and thus the state would have their DNA?

    Seems to me they could get that information some how.


    At the very least, (none / 0) (#6)
    by Zorba on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:49:14 PM EST
    Couldn't her admission be used to at least force Rose to compensate those patients with a different strain of hepatitis?

    Wouldn't they need to have possession (none / 0) (#4)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:43:57 PM EST
    of all the needles? Prior to her being caught, those needles would have been disposed of, correct?

    Unless the state can prove... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 05:10:56 PM EST
    those other users had knowledge that this woman was bringing the needles back to the hospital, those other users shouldn't be charged with anything.

    So many possibilities exist (none / 0) (#7)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 03:10:23 PM EST
    from this and similar situations.

    Becoming addicted to prescription painkillers seems fairly common and easy. Perhaps we need to put some regulations in place that require periodic drug tests on people who have had these high risk drugs prescribed, and help them break the addiction before it gets so out of hand.

    I'm trying to imagine what I would do if I found myself unable to stop taking a prescription known to be addictive. I honestly think I would return to the doctor who gave them to me to request help in coming down from the addiction. Then, I'm also one who generally has 3/4 of the bottle left when I've reached a pain threshhold that I can manage.

    Of course, sometimes the prescribing (none / 0) (#8)
    by oculus on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 03:12:32 PM EST
    M.D. is an aider and abettor.  

    What I find upsetting is (none / 0) (#10)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 03:19:03 PM EST
    that we know the source and the only focus seems to be on punishing rather than getting to the root cause and helping the hundreds of thousands who find themselves in this pickle. I'd be up a creek without a paddle 'cause I wouldn't know where to begin to look for a fix.

    Here's a timeline (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 03:25:59 PM EST

    It's not like this one time she just got in over her head.

    And from her MySpace page...

    I absolutely love music! Mostly rock/metal, but I listen to everything. I would go insane if I didn't have music in my life. To be able to listen to a song and trandesend to another place is the best feeling. I love art. Everything from painting to drawing and shading. I can do all that stuff, just not very well! Tattoos are a big part of my life too! I am fascinated by peoples tattoos and see nothing but beauty and personal expression. I'm not the typical chick in the sense that I'm into fighting (UFC, Elite XC), sports (Baseball, Football-pro and college), and motorcycles/cars (GSXR, R1 or R6,and way too many cars to name). I love'em all! Nothing is sexier than a guy on the back of a bike...with me behind him! lol I like to go out and have some drinks and play pool or something. I love going to concerts! Haven't been in a while, so I need to change that! I'm soo overdue for a good concert. Umm..what else... I have a crazy fascination with needles.. I just like the way they feel! ;)

    Have I defended her? (none / 0) (#13)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 03:31:36 PM EST
    No. I've said it would be so much better if this country would address the root cause in these matters before they reach these levels.

    I'm just guessing that those entries were not put online BEFORE she was addicted to prescription painkillers.


    So now we know another employer (none / 0) (#17)
    by Cream City on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 05:16:18 PM EST
    that is not checking MySpace and Facebook pages of employees.  Another issue, I know. . . .

    Saw a headline today about how (none / 0) (#19)
    by oculus on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 05:23:05 PM EST
    banks, credit card companies, etc. check social networking sites (including friends)as part of evaluation of whether to lend money.

    What's the incidence rate... (none / 0) (#23)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 09:18:54 PM EST
    ...for that?  Half a percent?  A whole percent?  

    Mine certainly is sympathetic to my condition, but sure as heck is an aider or an abettor.  Part of being a good doctor is having a modicum of compassion and empathy.


    Frequent cause of suspension or (none / 0) (#28)
    by oculus on Sat Jan 23, 2010 at 10:38:14 AM EST
    revocation of state medical license here is writing prescriptions on request w/o adequate exam.  Don't know the percentage of licensed physicians though.

    Drug Tests? (none / 0) (#18)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 05:19:48 PM EST
    You're scaring me Inspector:)

    Addiction is a terrible thing, be it pills, needles, alcohol...even worse is having to go to the street corner to feed that addiction.  We need to make drugs available safely and legally and roll the dough over to treatment free and readily available to all who want it.


    Not exactly what I was saying, kdog (none / 0) (#21)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 07:47:58 PM EST
    She started out on prescription painkillers after jaw surgery. Several of the prescription painkillers the medical world hands out and send people home with end up being gateway drugs as addictions happen far more often than we should accept.

    If a doctor puts someone on these high risk painkillers, what would be so awful about checking them when that prescription runs out plus a little system cleansing time? If they inadvertently became addicted, we can help them off the drugs rather than wait until they've reached crime level.


    First its... (none / 0) (#25)
    by kdog on Sat Jan 23, 2010 at 08:04:56 AM EST
    an invasion of privacy, a mandatory drug test.  Second, its your doctor, not your warden.  Third, not all abusers reach the crime level...they should be left alone.

    Remember I think all drugs should be available to adults without a prescription...let freedom ring.  The more we regulate & prohibit, the more market share the black market gets...at a pharmacy at least user can be sure they are getting what they think they're getting, and get a pamphlet about addiction and referrals to free treatment programs.


    Have to disagree on one point (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by nyjets on Sat Jan 23, 2010 at 01:28:51 PM EST
    "Remember I think all drugs should be available to adults without a prescription...let freedom ring. "
    That is not freedom, that is dangerous. If you want to decriminalize drug abuse fine. There is some logic in that.
    That being said, there are some drugs that are too dangerous to be used without presciption.
    You can end drug prohibition but still have drug prescription. You would simply not arrest the people who take the drugs.

    But then where does... (none / 0) (#30)
    by kdog on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 06:41:45 AM EST
    the user get the drugs that require a prescription without a prescription?  I'm thinking we gotta cut the black market outta this whole deal, and give no reason for users to steal their fix...the prescription system creates a vlack market and fosters corruption.

    I get ya man...there are some drugs I'd like to wipe out of existence they are so nasty...but we can't.  


    And (none / 0) (#26)
    by jbindc on Sat Jan 23, 2010 at 09:07:52 AM EST
    Then, when the doctor refuses to give them more prescription, addicts will just go doctor-shopping until someone will write them another prescription.

    Exactly... (none / 0) (#27)
    by kdog on Sat Jan 23, 2010 at 10:03:12 AM EST
    why play these stupid games?  Lets just admit addiction, tragic as it can be, is part of humanity, and deal with the societal costs of abuse (not use, abuse) in a humanitarian way that does not infringe on the individual sovereignty of responsible users.

    As it is within our current system, or a more stringent system...we are left to wonder if this woman still would have committed this heinous acts if she was able to legally walk down the street to CVS and buy her needles.  People will always steal of course, but we need not make it the easiest option for a junkie with access to prescription only drugs...let 'em buy it like we buy vodka.