The Second Appellate District court has overturned the conviction of a caretaker who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of ALS patient Heidi Good, of Solvang.
Heidi's mother, Marjorie Good, and Heidi's caretaker, Wanda Nelson, were indicted for first-degree murder, based on the theory that the two conspired to kill Heidi, who was dependent on a ventilator.
On March 25, 2013, Nelson left Heidi to get medicine, while Marjorie stayed behind. The prosecution theorized that the two conspired to kill Heidi, and that her ventilator was intentionally disconnected.
Nelson was acquitted of both first- and second-degree murder, but was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The prosecution decided to not retry Good after her jury couldn't reach a verdict.
The opinion Tuesday reversed Nelson's conviction, stating that involuntary manslaughter "requires criminal negligence in the commission of the offending act," and agreed that "there was no substantial evidence of criminal negligence."
Furthermore, Heidi Good instructed Nelson to go to the store, and that Marjorie would stay with Heidi until her return, the opinion said.
"Accordingly, no reasonable trier of fact could conclude by leaving Heidi in Marjorie's care for 30 minutes while [Nelson] went to pharmacy, [Nelson] engaged in conduct 'incompatible with a proper regard for human life,'" the opinion said.