Bar News - February 23, 2007
Folden Felony Conviction First Under 2002 Neglect Law
In the state’s first conviction under RSA 631:8 (Criminal Neglect of an Elderly, Disabled or Impaired Adult), a 2002 statute, a woman was sentenced to serve one year in the House of Corrections and placed on probation for a period of two years.
RSA 631:8 states that a caregiver who purposely or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to an elderly, disabled or impaired adult by neglect shall be guilty of a felony.
In January of 2005, Danna Folden of Goffstown called 911 to report that her 91-year-old mother Mary was having trouble breathing. Upon their arrival at the home, which Folden shared with her mother, rescue personnel found Mary Folden unconscious and lying in excrement. When she arrived at the hospital, her body temperature was 94 degrees; she weighed 78 lbs.; and she had a significant infection from an open wound on her lower back—measuring three-by-seven inches and an inch deep—which contained rotting flesh.
Mary Folden died within four hours of being admitted. An autopsy revealed that the cause of the woman’s death was suppurative leptomeningitis, which entered her body through the wound in her back, traveled up her spine and into her brain.
Assistant Attorney General Tracy Culberson said that Danna Folden was responsible for all of her mother’s daily needs and “as Mary’s sole caregiver…had certain responsibilities that she failed to meet and as a result her mother died from a condition that was preventable and treatable….” The state was prepared to present testimony that antibiotics could have cured the meningitis if it had been treated promptly.
Folden pled guilty to the negligence charge. In addition to her incarceration, she must also complete counseling and treatment recommended by the Dept. of Probation and Parole, take a tour of the NH State Prison and perform 200 hours of community service. She is forbidden from working or serving in any capacity as a caregiver for any elderly, disabled or impaired adult for 10 years, after which she can petition the court for a modification.