Justice Scales and books and wooden gavel
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One of three caregivers facing felony charges in the death of an 86-year-old assisted living and memory care community resident left outside in the heat has pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation.

Letticia Martinez, who worked at Cappella of Grand Junction, a Christian Living Communities assisted living and memory care community in Colorado, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of caretaker neglect and to a deferred sentence of negligent homicide, a felony, in the death of Hazel Place in 2021. She was sentenced to three years probation, 100 hours of community service and 30 days in jail.

Pam Sullivan, Christian Living Communities vice president of strategy and communication, told McKnight’s Senior Living on Monday that due to ongoing court proceedings, the company could not provide any specific comment.

Sullivan said that news coverage of the court proceedings “brings up many emotions for our Cappella of Grand Junction family” and that the company holds Place’s family and friends in their thoughts and prayers.

“We continue to focus on the wellbeing and safety of the older adults we have the privilege to serve,” Sullivan said. “We take our responsibility very seriously and are, as always, committed to quality care and services.”

An investigation by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Colorado Department of Law and the Grand Junction Police Department found Martinez, along with fellow caregivers Jamie Johnston and Jenny Logan, responsible for the death of Place, who was left outside in extremely high temperatures. Cases for Johnson and Logan, who were also charged with second-degree forgery, are ongoing.

According to the National Weather Service, the high temperature in Grand Junction on June 14, 2021, was 102 degrees Fahrenheit.

“This caretaker broke the trust of a vulnerable Coloradan in her care,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a statement. “Caregivers have a moral and legal responsibility to those under their supervision, and my office will continue holding accountable those complicit in such negligence.”

A Christian Living Communities representative previously shared with McKnight’s Senior Living that the company “immediately reported the circumstances surrounding the resident’s passing to the appropriate regulatory agencies and launched our own internal investigation.” 

That internal investigation resulted in the dismissal of all three caregivers last fall.

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