Plea deal struck in case against Colorado scrub tech
DENVER – A plea deal apparently has been struck in the case of a Colorado surgery technician accused of swapping her dirty syringes for ones filled with powerful painkillers meant for patients, possibly exposing them to hepatitis C.
A motion filed in federal court Thursday said Kristen Parker has reached an agreement with federal officials and is requesting that her trial set to start Monday be called off and a hearing scheduled for her enter a new plea.
The details of the deal weren’t available. Calls to Parker’s attorney and the U.S. attorney’s office weren’t immediately returned late Thursday.
Parker, 26, faced a possible life sentence if convicted of the charges against her, 19 counts each of tampering and illegally obtaining a controlled substance. Authorities said she swapped out syringes filled with fentanyl intended for surgery patients and replaced them with used, saline-filled syringes while working at Rose Medical Center in Denver and the Audubon Surgery Center in Colorado Springs.
A motion filed by Parker’s attorney Thursday said Parker acknowledged swapping the drug with the saline.
Fentanyl is a narcotic painkiller 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
Prosecutors have said they linked 35 cases of hepatitis, an incurable liver disease, in patients at the two Colorado hospitals to Parker, but were focusing on 19 cases they believed would be the easiest to prove at trial. Authorities said the hepatitis C found in the former surgery patients was of the same genetic type as hers.
Investigations are under way at hospitals in New York and Texas, where Parker also worked. No likely cases have been reported in those other states.