Conviction of a California Nurse in Death of Inmate at County Jail

A California nurse was charged with murder on Wednesday after prosecutors said she deprived an inmate of water, causing his death.

Nursing supervisor Karen Moxley allegedly denied Elan Nelson access to water in the days before he died at a county jail in June 2010. The prosecution claims that the denial of fluids led to Nelson’s death by dehydration and kidney failure, according to NBC Los Angeles.

Moxley faces up to life imprisonment if convicted on both counts of murder and involuntary manslaughter.

Nelson died of dehydration after his water supply was shut off for six days, according to the coroner.

The motive here is that she was mad at him, L.A. County Deputy District Attorney John Niedermann said in court Wednesday. Moxley’s attorney argues that Nelson had a history of faking illness and denying him fluids would have made prison officials look bad , according to the Pasadena Star-News.

A jailhouse nurse who had instructions from a superior to not give a dying inmate anything to drink was charged Wednesday with murder in connection with his death from dehydration, prosecutors said.

Nursing supervisor Karen P. Moxley, 50, of Whittier, was taken into custody at her home Wednesday morning and would be arraigned later in the day on one count each of murder and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death last year of Elan Justin Nelson , said Deputy Dist. Atty. John Niedermann.

Deputies found Nelson dead June 27, 2010, after his cellmate told them that Nelson was dying and they needed to get him help, according to Niedermann.

Nelson, 33, had been in custody at the jail since June 13 on charges of violating his parole. Phone records showed he had repeatedly called the U.S. Coast Guard in Long Beach asking for help because he was suicidal and had run out of medication, according to the district attorney’s office.

Nelson was placed in a cell with another detainee on June 20 and was told by sheriff’s deputies that he could not have any water or other beverages and should tell his cellmate if he needed anything because the jail staff would not give him anything , according to Niedermann.

The cellmate notified authorities the next day that Nelson was ill and asked for help, but deputies who checked on him at that time found no medical problems, according to Niedermann.

On June 23, the cellmate again told guards that Nelson might be dying and urged them to take him to a hospital, but he also was told that jail staff would not help Nelson, the prosecutor said.

On June 24, another inmate overheard Nelson being ill and vomiting in his cell and again notified a deputy, who this time took a closer look and found Nelson had no pulse and was not breathing , according to Niedermann.

Moxley has been employed by the Sheriff’s Department for more than 25 years.

LA County jail staffer charged with murder over inmate’s dehydration death; nurse claims she was following orders , By Christine Hanley and Andrew Blankstein, June 30, 2011

A top nursing supervisor at the L.A. County Men’s Central Jail was criminally charged Wednesday with murdering an inmate who died from severe dehydration, as the nunmber of lawsuits filed against the Sheriff’s Department over deaths in custody continues to rise.