Saturday, May 7, 2011
Looney Tunes Nurse Gets Away With Murder
In a story worthy of a one hour Date Line investigative report, Sandra Joyner an attractive successful 45 year old woman, is murdered by a former high school classmate Sally Jordan Hill, whose life over the preceding years had gone in the opposite direction, that of crazy frumpy troll.
Sandra Joyner three months before her death
Hill was charged in 2006 with first-degree murder in the April 2001 death of Sandra Joyner. Joyner had been a patient in Charlotte Dr. Peter Tucker's plastic surgery office where Hill worked.
Hill and Joyner were classmates at Olympic High School in the 1970s. It has been suggested that a grudge had been festering for years, and co-workers told police they overheard Hill say Joyner had stolen her boyfriend.
On Friday more than ten years after Joyner's death, Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray told reporters he was troubled by Hill's actions, but said there was no credible evidence that showed any rivalry or animosity between the two women that would cause Hill to kill so many years later.
Hill's attorneys have said Joyner's death was an unintentional medical accident.
"There is no evidence that Miss Hill Jordan knowingly, deliberately selected this person and killed her," Hill's attorney, Jean Lawson, said in court. "The suggestion that this is a product of a 30-year grudge is outrageous."
Murray signed the documents dismissing the murder charge against Hill and attached a two-page explanation. He also listed "significant factors" that led to Hill's arrest.
Among those factors:
Hill administered a narcotic pain killer called fentanyl while Joyner was recovering from surgery without permission of the attending physician.
Hill then altered a drug log to conceal the amount of fentanyl she administered.
Hill turned off the victim's pulse oximeter because she stated "it was annoying." The instrument, which measures oxygen in the blood, would have alerted medical staff of Joyner's severe medical distress.
Hill did not appropriately assist in efforts to resuscitate Joyner once it was clear she was in distress.
The N.C. Medical Board found that Hill was grossly negligent in administering fentanyl without the doctor's permission, and for not alerting the doctor about a medical emergency requiring immediate attention.
In reviewing the case, Murray said prosecutors met with defense experts, including a board-certified anesthesiologist, a nurse anesthetist and a plastic surgeon, the document says. Prosecutors also discussed the case several times with the medical examiner.
The experts agreed there is always a risk with using anesthesia, and it is difficult to determine the exact reason Joyner died, Murray's explanation says.
The experts also provided alternative possible causes of death, including an adverse drug reaction and complications from intubation.
"It is the office's position that some, if not all, jurors would reasonably believe the testimony of the defense's expert witnesses, thereby making a guilty verdict impossible," the explanation says.
Prosecutors would have had trouble rebutting defense expert testimony. When Joyner's body was examined by the medical examiner, her organs already had been removed for donation. That prevented any analysis. No blood sample was initially preserved for the medical examiner's office to determine the drug levels in Joyner's system.
Murray's explanation says: "Despite the considerable circumstantial evidence that Sally Hill killed Sandra Joyner, the state does not believe that the evidence would lead a jury to unanimously find beyond a reasonable doubt that the conduct of the defendant was a proximate cause of Sandra Joyner's death."
Sandra Joyner's former husband John Joyner points out that his wife was healthy before the surgery and was "actually smiling and laughing" in the recovery room before she began having breathing problems. He said she was alone for 15 minutes with Hill, who was an experienced nurse anesthetist who did not call for help.
Cedar's Take: Watch the Channel 36 interview with Hill who has now reverted to her maiden name Jordan, watch her eyes darting around the room, and her odd facial expressions, she's guilty and crazy as all hell.
A jury would have convicted her, but perhaps its better to let her continue to suffer in that body, with a mind that can't grasp reality.