Friday, December 30, 2016
Final Rulings Issued Before Cadden Trial
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
With jury selection set to begin in just days, a federal judge has ruled on a series of last minute motions in the trial on murder charges of the chief pharmacist for the company blamed for a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak.
U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns ruled that prosecutors cannot present evidence on a decade old case in which a patient died after being injected with a drug produced by the New England Compounding Center.
Prosecutors wanted to present details of the death in the upcoming trial of Barry Cadden, the part-owner and chief pharmacist for NECC. Jury selection in his second degree murder case is scheduled to begin Wednesday in Stearns' Boston, Mass. courtroom.
Barred by Stearns ruling are details of the 2004 death of New York resident William Koch who succumbed following an injection of a steroid produced by NECC. Koch's family later sued NECC and the case was settled out of court.
Stearns concluded the Koch case was too old and the details too inconclusive to be presented to jurors considering the 25 counts of second degree murder against Cadden.
The 25 victims were among at least 77 who died in the outbreak caused by fungus ridden methylprednisolone acetate (MPA) shipped by NECC to health providers in some 20 states.
Cited by Stearns in the Koch ruling was "the lack of conclusive evidence that the death at issue was caused by contaminated MPA, the absence of any finding or admission of liability" and the lack of any allegation against Cadden personally
In other rulings Stearns granted an extension till Wednesday for Cadden's lawyer to file proposed jury instructions and agreed that prosecutors will not be allowed to present evidence of Cadden's wealth, though they will be allowed to detail Cadden's ownership interest in NECC.
He also granted Cadden's motion to file some unspecified evidence under seal.
The 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak sickened some 778 patients, including the 77 that died.
Cadden is one of 14 NECC connected individuals named in a 2014 indictment by a federal grand jury following a two year federal investigation of the deadly outbreak. Two of the 14 have entered guilty pleas to reduced charges, while two others had charges dismissed.
Glenn Chin, who was a supervisory pharmacist at NECC, is scheduled to go on trial when Cadden's case is completed. Like Cadden he is facing racketeering and second degree murder charges.
The eight remaining defendants will face trial when Chin's case is completed.