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No jail for Derry nurse who gave brother-in-law fatal dose to alleviate suffering

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 28. 2013 7:37PM

A registered nurse from Derry, who told police she gave her brother-in-law a fatal dose of insulin to alleviate his suffering from cancer, was given a suspended jail sentence after she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor offense of possessing a drug without a prescription.

Catherine George, 49, of Derry also permanently surrendered her registered nursing license as part of the negotiated plea deal.

George went to Derry police last Oct. 14 and admitted she administered a lethal dose of insulin five days before to her cancer-stricken brother-in-law, Randall Percival, 55, of Raymond.

George was working as a nurse at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester at the time. The hospital suspended her after her admission.

George pleaded guilty Thursday in 10th Circuit Court, Derry District Division. She received a 30-day sentence, which was suspended for two years on condition of good behavior.

"This has been a difficult time for her and her family," said defense attorney Maryellen Biletch of Manchester. "She just wants to put this behind her and move forward."

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said the state could not charge George with a more serious offense because there was no evidence to support her statement.

"An admission alone is not enough to prosecute somebody," Young said.

"We had no evidence," Young said. "Other than her statement, we had no independent, corroborating evidence."

Since Percival was in end-stage cancer, no autopsy was done, Young said. By time George went to Derry police, Percival's body had been cremated. His cause of death was listed as metastatic cholangiocarcinoma, or bile duct cancer.

In addition, tests done on the syringe and bottle of insulin George turned over to authorities did not have any of Percival's DNA on it, she said.

Authorities also "have no evidence that this was a pattern (of behavior) — that she had done this to someone else," Young said. According to the state Board of Nursing, George told police she injected him with 300 milliliters of insulin so he would no longer be in pain. She presented to authorities a large syringe and a glass vial of Novolog insulin, saying her brother-in-law didn't need to suffer anymore.

Three hundred milliliters is what a Type 1 diabetic would receive over several months.

Because no autopsy was done and there was no physical evidence to corroborate George's admission, the state did not have proof beyond a reasonable doubt to prosecute a charge against her in the death of Percival, who worked in optical engineering and was the father of two and grandfather of one.

George had been a registered nurse since 1994 and never had a licensing problem, according to the Nursing Board.

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