Saturday January 12, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- Authorities expect a lengthy murder trial later this year for a licensed nursing assistant charged in the insulin-related death of a Thompson House resident.

Jodi LaClaire appeared briefly in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division Thursday for a status update on her case, which is being prosecuted by the state attorney general’s office.

Judge David Suntag set deadlines for depositions and pre-trial motions and said he anticipates a trial in late summer.

"The prediction here is that trial will take perhaps up to three weeks," Suntag said.

Suntag reminded LaClaire that she has a right to a speedy trial. The 38-year-old Bennington, N.H., resident was charged with second-degree murder about a year ago.

LaClaire, who is incarcerated, said she did not object to the court’s schedule.

The murder charge stems from the March 2009 death of 83-year-old Nita Lowery, a Thompson House resident. LaClaire is accused of injecting Lowery with a fatal dose of insulin.

Investigators say LaClaire was the only licensed nursing assistant assigned to Lowery’s floor for an overnight shift. Lowery reportedly was discovered "unconscious and slumped in her wheelchair" just after 7 a.m. the next morning.

Lowery was deemed brain dead upon her arrival at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.


Advertisement

A medic who had responded to Thompson House noted that Lowery had extremely low blood sugar, though doctors said she did not have a history of diabetes and was not taking diabetic medication.

LaClaire reportedly has claimed that Lowery was complaining of a headache and was unsteady.

But experts believe the death was not due to natural causes, and a doctor told investigators that there was "no physiological explanation" for Lowery’s condition other than the introduction of insulin into her body.

Prosecutors said LaClaire is a diabetic who uses injectable insulin.

LaClaire also is charged with using Lowery’s USAA credit card to withdraw thousands of dollars after she died.

Last month, the Vermont Board of Nursing revoked LaClaire’s license. Officials wrote that "Ms. LaClaire’s conduct reveals the most horrific breach of trust and professional standards this board can recall."

In other court activity Thursday:

-- Christopher Goldschmidt, who investigators have linked to a multistate burglary ring, may be headed for trial. Defense attorney Michael Harty said there had been settlement talks with prosecutors, but the two sides were "miles apart."

The Athens resident, who faces charges including four counts of burglary, was ordered to return to court March 8. Harty said he wants to question Criscenzo Ruggiero, a Westminster resident who pleaded guilty on Thursday to involvement in nine Windham County burglaries.

-- In another case allegedly related to the burglary ring, Travis Noyes of Rockingham also was directed to return to court in March. He faces three burglary counts and 12 counts of aiding in the commission of a felony.

-- Suntag accepted a guilty plea from Carter Reeves, a Brattleboro resident who had been arrested in August after police said he intimidated patrons at the 99 Restaurant and threatened to blow up the building.

Reeves pleaded to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to 19 to 20 days in jail, which he already has served.

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.