A Marion County jury returned a verdict of not guilty on all charges against a woman charged in a nursing home abuse case that went to trial last week.
Randi Noel McKinley, 33, Marion, was acquitted last Friday by the Marion County Court of Common Pleas of all charges related to a September 14, 2019 incident at Community Care and Rehabilitation (now known as Embassy de Marion) in which she and another employee of the facility were accused of unlawfully restraining a patient with dementia. McKinley admitted that she and an assistant Jennifer Williams used a gait belt to restrain the patient in a reclining medical chair to prevent him from falling.
Robert Whittington, 85, the patient who was retained, died on September 15, 2019. The coroner ruled Whittington’s death was due to natural causes and was unrelated to the incident on September 14, 2019. September 2019, when he was retained.
Following investigations by Community Care and Rehabilitation, the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio Board of Nursing, and the Ohio Attorney General, prosecutors with the Attorney General’s Office requested an indictment in the case, which was granted Sept. 8. 2021, by the Marion County Grand Jury.
After the three-day trial last week in Marion County Court of Common Pleas, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty on the following charges against McKinley: kidnapping, a third-degree felony; tampering with evidence, a third degree felony; and false, a fifth degree felony. She was charged with tampering with evidence for allegedly trying to delete a video of the incident and was charged with forgery for allegedly falsifying a report of the incident.
“(The not-guilty verdict) was validation not just for Randi McKinley, but it was validation for our medical professionals who sometimes have to make split-second decisions to do what they think will save a life. person and will not endanger her,” said Rocky Ratliff, McKinley’s attorney. “The state had a witness who was the director of nursing at this facility who was talking about ‘the patient’s right to fall.’ protect, not to let us down and then pick up the pieces.
“He’s not a toddler you’re teaching to walk; he’s an elderly person who is dealing with safety issues. So (Friday’s) verdict was a message from the public that our health professionals healthcare should have some leeway to do what they think is right to protect our elderly patients and people with dementia who are unfamiliar with their surroundings.”
Ratliff also pointed out that the incident was never reported to local law enforcement and that it took nearly two years before charges were filed in the case.
McKinley, who is a licensed practical nurse, now works at an assisted living facility in Marysville, Ratliff said.
“The one thing I left out in my closing argument is that when I get older and I’m in Mr. Whittington’s potential position, I really want a nurse like (McKinley) to take care of me,” Ratliff said. “I don’t want anyone to let me down and bang my head on various things, especially when I don’t know what’s going on. I would definitely entrust my care to Randi McKinley or anyone else involved in this matter. “
Williams, who was a community care and rehabilitation assistant when the incident occurred, entered into a plea deal with the Ohio attorney general to testify against McKinley. Williams was initially charged with one count of kidnapping, a third degree felony. Under the terms of the plea agreement with the Ohio Attorney General, Williams pleaded guilty to one count of attempted kidnapping, a fourth-degree felony.
Last Friday, Judge Edwards sentenced Williams to three years of “intensive” community control and a total of 80 days in jail to be served at the Marion Multi-County Correctional Facility. The judge allows Williams to serve her prison sentence on weekends so she can work on weekdays. The judge waived all court and attorney fees and imposed no fine on Williams.
Louis Schoeneman, who was a registered nurse at Community Care and Rehabilitation, was also charged in connection with the incident in September 2019. After being charged with one count of aiding and abetting kidnapping and one count of tampering with evidence , both third-degree felonies, he entered into a plea deal with the state, although he never took the stand to testify against McKinley.
Schoeneman pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing official business, a fifth degree felony. Schoeneman’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 30 before Judge Edwards.
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