A former nursing-home caregiver will spend 15 weekends in jail for stealing morphine from two elderly patients, despite her request to avoid jail so she could breastfeed her child.
During her sentencing Tuesday in Douglas County District Court, Erica A. Bay, 29, blamed drug addiction for her actions. She entered a plea earlier this year to two counts of mistreatment of a dependent adult, for the thefts in January 2005 at Pioneer Ridge Retirement Community, 4851 Harvard Road.
"I'm very sorry for the mistakes I've made and the many people I've hurt," she told Judge Paula Martin. "Drug addiction is a very powerful and terrible disease ... I am a drug addict, and I must remember that every day for the rest of my life."
At the time of her plea, the prosecution said Bay admitted taking several skin patches off patients and pouring morphine into her hand and then into her mouth.
One of the patients, 96-year-old Evin "John" Dillard, died shortly afterward. Family members say they don't believe the loss of morphine contributed to his death, but that it caused him more suffering in his last days.
Bay's attorney, Angela Keck, asked Martin to order only probation, not jail time. She said Bay was now drug-free, was remorseful and needed to be at home to breastfeed her son.
But Assistant Dist. Atty. Brandon Jones said the case called for punishment and asked Martin to give a 30-day sentence. Even though drug addiction is a disease, he said, it's one that Bay brought upon herself through her choices.
He said at the time of this crime that Bay already was on probation in Cowley County for a drug crime.
Martin granted his request.
"I do think it's an egregious crime that you've committed," she told Bay.
Dillard's son, John, attended the hearing and said he was satisfied with the outcome. He also said he was pleased overall with Pioneer Ridge's treatment of his father, with the exception of Bay's actions.
Keck asked the judge whether Bay could make accommodations to pump breast milk while in jail. Martin said she didn't know and that Bay would need to make arrangements.
Lt. Kari Wempe, a Douglas County sheriff's spokeswoman, said the jail had made those accommodations in the past.