Regional News in Review – February 2010

Final Hamilton defendant sentenced  The final defendant in the Justin Hamilton beating and torture case was sentenced Jan. 8, bring […]

Final Hamilton defendant sentenced 

The final defendant in the Justin Hamilton beating and torture case was sentenced Jan. 8, bring an end to a case that began in October 2008. Hamilton, 26, who was born with a developmentally disablility, spoke out in court about how the incident has changed him. The attack provoked widespread outrage and an outpouring of support for Hamilton, who is from Lakeville.

Hamilton spoke at the sentencing for Jonathon Diepold, 22, of Northfield. Diepold was sentenced to imprisonment and five year’s probation for his role in the crime. Diepold was part of a group that kidnapped and tortured Hamilton on two successive nights in October 2008. The other four people have been tried and sentenced.

In court, Hamilton spoke of how the incident has set him back after years of making progress. He is frightened to leave home without other family members. He had saved almost $20,000 to attend Dakota County technical College to become a mechanic, but wound up spending that money for attorneys.

After the sentencing, Hamilton told reports, saying “I will never, ever accept their apologies. These two men wanted to light me on fire alive and leave me for dead,” referring to Diepold and Jonathan M. Maniglia. Maniglia was seen as the other leader of the attacks.

The attacks were provoked after a young woman lied to her male friends about Hamilton hitting her. That young woman, Natasha Dahn, later admitted she had lied. But that wasn’t until after the two nights in which Hamilton was held against his will, beaten, kicked and burned. He had burns, broken ribs and many bruises as a result of the attacks.

Diepold was sentenced on two counts of kidnapping, two counts of false imprisonment and one count each of aggravated robbery, third-degree assault and gross misdemeanor theft. The penalty he received is almost double what is recommended.

Judge Tim Wermager decided that Diepold will serve two-thirds of the 10-year sentence in prison. He could then serve the remaining time on supervised release, but any violations would send him back to prison.

Diepold read a letter of apology to Hamilton’s family in court. [Source: Star Tribune, KSTP TV]

 
Civil lawsuit filed in abuse cases

 

Four of the alleged victims in the highly publicized elder abuse case at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea and their families have sued the operator of the nursing home and four of the former certified nursing assistants.

The civil lawsuit, filed Jan. 25 in Freeborn County District Court, comes on the heels of criminal trials slated for this summer.

The four plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit are alive and are acting in the case via power of attorney granted to relatives. The law firms Sieben, Grose, Von Holtum & Carey and Kosieradzki-Smith in Minneapolis are handling the lawsuit.

The four former nursing assistants Brianna Broitzman, Ashton Larson, Alicia Hellmann and Kaylee Nash are defendants in the case, along with the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, which runs 230 nursing homes around the country including the Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea, where the acts of physical, sexual and emotional abuse on residents with dementia are alleged to have occurred.

The four former nursing assistants in the civil suit were teens, two of which face juvenile criminal charges and two of which face adult criminal charges. All are now adults. Two others not cited in the civil suit went through juvenile criminal court.

Mark Kosieradzki, one of the lawyers for the alleged victims, said the families have a lot of questions that remain unanswered and hope the lawsuit provides answers. The questions the victims’ families want answered are the following: How could the alleged abuse gone on four, five or even six months? And why was no one at the facility monitoring these aides?

Attorney Jim Carey said this situation was not just the case of one employee who on one or two occasions engaged in this type of behavior. Instead, he alleged, these nurses aides were going into rooms and locking the doors. There was screaming from the residents, laughing from the aides and video recording as well.

Kosieradzki said the operator of the local Good Samaritan facility has ample resources available to provide enough people to supervise its aides. The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society operates in 23 states and has almost 20,000 patients, with more than $1 billion in assets each year, he said, to support his statement.

A spokesman for the Good Samaritan Society says the company hasn’t done anything improper and followed correct procedures once the allegations came out. The lawsuit lists six claims against the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society.

The incidents surfaced in May of 2008 and were made public in August of 2008 after the release of a Minnesota Department of Health report that concluded four teenagers were involved in verbal, sexual and emotional abuse of 15 residents at the nursing home. [Source; Albert Lea Tribune]

 
Transit Link service contract set

 

The Metropolitan Council today voted to award a five-year contract for Transit Link service in southern Ramsey County and all of Washington County to Midwest Paratransit Services Inc. The new contract will take effect on March 1, though service may not begin until later in the month. The new contract is part of the restructuring of dial-a-ride services region-wide.

It is the second contract awarded for the new Transit Link service. Midwest Paratransit also received the contract to provide dial-a-ride service for 26 communities in Hennepin County. The service provides rides primarily for senior citizens.

“The restructure of dial-a-ride services will provide much greater consistency region-wide,” said Arlene McCarthy, director of transportation services for the Council. “Our ultimate goal is to avoid duplication with regular route transit so all communities have greater access to a transit option, either regular route transit or Transit Link. [Source: Metropolitan Council]

 
Man dies after workplace beating

 

A 27-year-old developmentally disabled man died last month, after he was physically restrained by several people at his stateoperated workplace in Eden Prairie. Timothy Aleshire died

Jan. 8 after being restrained from attacking a co-worker.

Eden Prairie Police and the Minnesota Department of Human Services are investigating the incident. Their scrutiny will include examination of the restraint used to subdue Aleshire Dec. 31 at Metro Resources Technology Park.

Aleshire’s mother and legal guardian, Nancy Aleshire of Brooklyn Park, said he was rendered unconscious. He died a few days after the incident.

Aleshire lived in a group home in Minneapolis. He had worked at Metro Resources for about five years, but his family was in the process of having him transferred to another facility because of issues with a co-worker. He had been diagnosed with the neurological disorder Asperger’s syndrome, was schizophrenic and had a history of aggressive behavior.

Metro Resources is one of 19 state-operated facilities around Minnesota that provide work to the developmentally disabled.  They perform tasks on behalf of businesses ranging from packaging and assembly to working in hotels and restaurants and handling other types of manual labor. The company has limited its public comments and is also investigating the incident. [Source: Star Tribune]

 

Specialized van still missing

The van’s owner, Marcia Holdren, uses a wheelchair and needs it to get to and from kidney dialysis treatment three times a week, police spokesman Sgt. Paul Schnell said.

The van was stolen a parking area near the arena. The theft of the vehicle remains under investigation. Police are asking that it be returned. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the van or the person responsible for the theft can call 911 or 651-291-1111.

A specialized van belonging to a woman awaiting a kidney transplant was stolen in St. Paul during the first weekend of January. It still has not been recovered. The van was stolen near the Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul police reported. The van is a silver 2007 Town and Country minivan with Minnesota license plate VGN 691.