Marlowe's Shade

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Confederacy of Dunces

It's hard to know where to begin with this report from the AP:

Bodies recovered from a nursing home and hospital after Hurricane Katrina were so badly decomposed by the time autopsies were done that they probably won't yield evidence for prosecuting crimes, a coroner said.

Orleans Parish Coroner Frank Minyard, who is overseeing autopsies for the state, said that he simply listed the cause of death as "Katrina related" for the 34 victims of St. Rita's Nursing Home and more than 40 people who died at Memorial Medical Center.

The Louisiana attorney general charged the owners of St. Rita's with negligent homicide and subpoenaed 73 people in a probe into whether euthanasia caused the deaths at Memorial.

"There is no physical evidence from the autopsy that these people were murdered or euthanized," Minyard said Monday. "If they did not have a knife sticking in them or a bullet in the body, it's hard pinpoint an exact cause."

Toxicology reports have not yet been returned, but, unless the bodies were injected with morphine or some drug, those reports will probably not prove anything either, Minyard said.

"You're dealing with people who are badly decomposed," he said.

The failure of autopsies — which were sought by the attorney general — to provide clear-cut causes of death or back up charges of euthanasia will not deter prosecutors from pursuing the cases, said Kris Wartelle, a spokesperson for Attorney General Charles Foti.

The St. Rita's case and the deaths at Memorial are two separate incidents, with the former being a case of the elderly left to die, while the latter being alleged active euthanasia. The way this is being spun is very disturbing and could be due to anything from moral myopia to deliberate muddling of the issues. The intentional obscuring of the facts seems to be the tactic of the nursing home owner's lawyer:

The Manganos' attorney, Jim Cobb, said the lack of autopsy proof that residents drowned will make it difficult to prove the charges against his clients.

"As part of his media onslaught, the attorney general indicated that all of these folks drowned," Cobb said. "Now obviously he's not going to be able to prove that."

A presumption can be made that drowning caused the deaths of those found floating or in certain areas after flood waters went down, Minyard said. But getting hard evidence means examining the lungs under a microscope, "which is practically impossible in these cases."

IMHO the State of Louisana will get another black eye if the owners of the nursing home get off an a technicality. I haven't seen any report that contradicts the prosecution's claim that these elderly victims were simply abandoned to the flood waters.
papijoe 8:52 AM