Caregiver convicted in death of Solvang ALS patient

February 19, 2016
Marjorie Good

Marjorie Good

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.

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Breathing tubes pop off of tracheostomies pretty often, especially if a person coughs. The tube that connects the ventilator to the airway is now disconnected, and a patient cannot breathe. It is completely plausible that the mother/caregiver, who is elderly, is outside of the room and gardening, using the bathroom, doing WHATEVER, and doesn’t hear the alarm. SHE IS OLD OMG. In 2013 she is like 87 years old! Maybe she DIDN’T hear an alarm.

….or….maybe she DID unplug her technology dependent daughter with ALS. We will never know. Maybe the husband did it. He sure did grab that $$ quickly, then pointed the finger at his mother in law. Asshole.

If I were a juror, I would not have have convicted her. She was 90 years old and it is just as likely the first could have happened. It all sounds like reasonable doubt to me. But I’m just a juror of her peers, wtf to I know?

Just read all the trial articles on Noozhawk. This is shocking. The doctor testified that Nelson basically kept her alive longer than normal….AND that Nelson had reported the husband was abusing her. Nelson actually took pictures of the abuse. The money Nelson owed was a couple of hundred dollars. Meanwhile, husband was sick and tired of paying for caregiving and promptly picked up his 350,000 life insurance policy.

This makes the case for changing the system to professional jurors.

No Good dead goes unpunished.

Money, the root of all evil for sure!

This does not sound like it was done with malice; but perhaps mercy. There is no way this woman was going to recover and live a full life–and wouldn’t the insurance money have been disbursed anyway? Not an excuse….but prior to the new laws that provide doctors who will allow someone to end their life–how else were they supposed to do it?

This lady’s case probably wouldn’t fall under California’s new law because she wasn’t terminally ill.