Hidden video surveillance revealed victims cries for help
DECATUR, GA–DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston announces convictions by guilty plea in connection with the negligent death of an elderly nursing home patient in Brookhaven at the hands of two nurses and an aide charged with his care.
During court proceedings on Tuesday, March 15, before DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Shondeana Morris, 67-year-old Loyce Pickquet Agyeman, a former Licensed Nurse Practitioner (LPN) pleaded guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter, Neglect to an Elder Person, and Concealing the Death of Another. She was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Wanda Nuckles, 65, also a former LPN, pleaded guilty on Wednesday, March 16, to a single count of Concealing the Death of Another. She was sentenced to a year in prison. Both women were scheduled for trial next week.
Mable Turman, 66, who served as a Certified Nurse Assistant, pleaded guilty in February to charges of Neglect to an Elder Person and Concealing the Death of Another and was subsequently sentenced to five years’ probation, as the least culpable of the defendants.
The charges against the women stem from the Feb. 27, 2014 death of 89-year-old James Dempsey, a patient in their care at Northeast Atlanta Rehabilitation Center in Brookhaven. The investigation revealed that the Defendants, in varying degrees, failed to provide timely and necessary medical assistance, ultimately resulting in Mr. Dempsey’s death.
Hidden video surveillance placed in the room by the victim’s family shows the patient suffering in respiratory distress and repeatedly calling out for help throughout the night. He complained his chest hurt and that he couldn’t breathe. Defendant Agyeman ignored his pleas, telling the patient there was nothing wrong with his heart and to stop pushing the call button for assistance. She then left the room.
When Dempsey called for help again, Turman, an aide, arrived 24 minutes later. After realizing the victim was unresponsive, she went to seek assistance from Agyeman. They both returned to the room and did not attempt to revive Dempsey, nor did Nuckles upon her arrival to the room. Nearly an hour after the victim stopped breathing, Agyeman and Nuckles began performing CPR in apparent ruse for the emergency service personnel who were just arriving, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The video surveillance of the incident was made public in November 2017 via a television broadcast following a civil lawsuit by the victim’s family, prompting a joint investigation between law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office.
“This is a landmark case for the State of Georgia and for DeKalb County,” said District Attorney Sherry Boston. “As a result of this case, the Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that families have a right to install video recording equipment in their loved one’s nursing home spaces. It is an important precedent for victims’ rights and safety. We are pleased that these defendants have accepted responsibility for their callous disregard of Mr. Dempsey’s pain and suffering, which unfortunately led to his death. We hope these pleas send a message to nursing home employees to treat their patients with dignity and respect, and we hope the resolution of this case will provide some measure of comfort and closure for his family.”
Agyeman was ordered to turn herself in to the DeKalb County Jail by noon on March 31 to begin serving her sentence. Nuckles must report to the jail by April 1 to begin her term.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Jeanne Canavan who leads the District Attorney’s Crimes Against Elder Persons and Adults with Disabilities (CAEPAD) Unit, with assistance from Senior ADA Franklin Engram and DA Investigator Charles Maupin. Sgt. Corey Van Alen of the Brookhaven Police Department conducted the initial investigation.
Photos L-R: Loyce Pickquet Agyeman, 67, Wanda Nuckles, 65, and Mable Turman, 66. Booking photos via DeKalb County Jail.