A rural Easton woman has been sentenced to 60 days in jail and three years of probation for the mistreatment of a dependent adult at a nursing home.
Donna Sue Copeland, 47, was sentenced Friday in Leavenworth County District Court. She was convicted in September of one count of mistreatment of a dependent adult and one count of making a criminal threat.
The charges stemmed from a March 17 incident at Country Care in Easton where Copeland was employed at the time.
Copeland reportedly placed an alarm cord around the neck of a man who was in a wheelchair and threatened to strangle him. She also reportedly pushed the man into his room and closed the door, leaving him unattended, according County Attorney Todd Thompson.
The victim, who reportedly suffered from dementia, died about a month after the incident, according to Assistant County Attorney Adam Zentner, who prosecuted the case.
Before imposing the sentence Friday, District Judge Gunnar Sundby heard arguments regarding a defense motion seeking a new trial in the case. Sundby denied the motion and accepted the jury's verdict. The case then proceeded to sentencing.
Zentner argued Copeland should receive a prison sentence. He expressed concern for public safety and said the defendant has had problems while previously on probation.
The victim's daughter read a statement during the sentencing hearing.
Defense attorney Roger Horsky argued for probation. He noted that Copeland's nursing license already had been revoked. He also said the victim had suffered no physical injuries.
When given the opportunity to speak, Copeland said she was sorry the victim had died, saying she had nothing to do with his death.
"I'm a good person," she said.
When imposing the sentence, Sundby said there was no evidence that Copeland had accelerated the victim's death. But the judge added that Copeland certainly didn't make the man's life comfortable.
"It was a sad case to hear," Sundby said.
The judge said Copeland still was in denial to some degree.
Sundby said the fact that Copeland has lost her nursing license is a factor he believes will help protect community safety. He said requiring that Copeland receive anger management also will help.
Sundby said he also will order a substance abuse evaluation and treatment.
The judge said he felt a 60-day jail sanction also is appropriate.
He suspended a three-year prison term and imposed the jail sanction and probation.
Sundby said he would allow Copeland, who was free on bond, to arrange a date to surrender to begin serving her jail sentence. He said she can surrender within the next 10 days.