Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Dec. 20
Jury will decide if nurse abused his autistic patient
Matthew McDuffie took witness box to deny rough handling
On Monday morning, a jury in San Diego’s North County Courthouse will begin deliberating the fate of a nurse who is accused of mishandling an autistic patient in his care last summer.
Matthew Alexander McDuffie, 28, took the witness stand in his own defense last week and denied rough handling of a 23-year-old disabled man. McDuffie is charged with six felonies.
The jury heard testimony for more than two weeks, since April 25, 2013.
“McDuffie failed to take any responsibility of his actions despite the videos,” said prosecutor Natalie Villaflor. “It is now up to the jury to decide if it was abuse or not.”
The mother of the alleged victim put a surveillance camera in her son’s bedroom before she left for a month-long trip to Europe, in July and August of 2012. Whether or not the mother, Kim Oakley, severely edited the video clips which she provided to investigators was hotly contested by attorneys.
“I told the jury to look at the videos for themselves, and note that the sound effects on the ‘punch to the stomach’ and ‘slap to the face’ didn’t sound right,” said defense attorney Karolyn Kovtun. Attorneys gave their closing arguments Thursday, May 9, 2013.
Much of the alleged “abuse” seemed to happen off-camera, and the accuser Kim Oakley was allowed to describe for the jury what she thought was happening on some of the video clips, while they were shown to the jury.
Kim Oakley admitted in the witness box that she purposely destroyed the computer card which held the complete, original videos -- and then lied she about that to investigators. “She knew better than to destroy evidence,” said defense attorney Kovtun. “I asked the jury, why would she destroy the SD card when she knew they were coming out to get it?”
Testimony from different witnesses suggested that it was after a detective phoned Kim Oakley to make an appointment to come to her home to collect more video evidence, that Kim Oakley made the computer card unreadable.
It was undisputed that the 23-year-old patient is unusually strong, and has episodes of hitting himself, which experts called SIB or Self Injurious Behavior. Other nurses who cared for the same patient testified that the patient also has a contagious staph infection called MRSA and that he “learned to bite” persons who took his hands, trying to stop him hitting himself.
More like this:
- Homecare nurse accused of felonies was found guilty of two misdemeanors — May 14, 2013
- Accused nurse expected to testify in his own defense — May 7, 2013
- Defense will begin case Monday in alleged-caregiver-abuse trial — April 14, 2013
- Computer expert said card containing evidence was intentionally destroyed — April 11, 2013
- Accuser in alleged abuse trial is asked to explain the other video — April 9, 2013