Caregiver convicted in death of Solvang ALS patient
February 19, 2016
The former caregiver for a Lompoc ALS patient has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the woman’s death. However, the jury found the caregiver not guilty of both first-degree murder and second-degree murder. [KSBY]
In 2013, Solvang resident Heidi Good died at the age of 52 after suffering from ALS for several years. Prosecutors say, prior to her death, Heidi Good was purposefully sedated and her breathing machine was disconnected.
After her death, Good’s husband, Stephen Swiacki, maintained a blog saying she may have been murdered. Sheriff’s detectives initially treated Swiacki as the suspect, but later changed the direction of the homicide investigation, his blog stated.
Last spring, a Santa Barbara County Grand jury indicted Good’s mother, Marjorie Good, and her caregiver, Wanda Nelson, on murder charges.
Nelson and Marjorie Good, now 90 years old, stood trial in Santa Maria over the past two and a half months. A jury found Nelson guilty of involuntary manslaughter on Thursday. In Marjorie Good’s trial, closing arguments ended Thursday.
Prosecutors argued both Nelson and Marjorie Good had financial motives to murder Heidi Good. Marjorie Good was worried she was being taken out of her daughter’s will, prosecutors alleged.
But, a defense attorney argued prosecutors should not have ruled out Swiacki as a suspect. Swiacki contacted escrow less than 16 hours after his wife’s death and asked for a check in his name. Swiacki receives a $350,000 life insurance payout, the defense said.
The prosecution and defense also clashed over whether Marjorie Good heard an alarm go off when her daughter’s breathing machine was disconnected. At the time, Marjorie Good was reportedly gardening in the yard of the home where her daughter was receiving treatment.
A jury is now deliberating Marjorie Good’s verdict.