April 20, 2013

Hep-C trial dates faces delay

A judge will likely decide when David Kwiatkowski's trial will start on charges from Exeter Hospital work.

The Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. - Prosecutors and defense lawyers remain at odds over a trial date for a former Exeter Hospital technician accused of stealing drugs and infecting patients with hepatitis C, making it likely that a judge will hold a hearing to settle the matter.

David Kwiatkowski, who has been in jail since his arrest in July, is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 1, but his lawyers filed a motion last week asking that the trial be moved back at least six months given the complexity of the case. After prosecutors said they would agree to a three-month delay at most, a judge told both sides to discuss the matter and get back to him by Monday.

Jonathan Saxe, a federal public defender, said Friday he suggested a March date but the prosecution declined, setting the stage for a hearing. U.S. Attorney John Kacavas said anything more than a three-month delay is unnecessary.

In his earlier written response, Kacavas dismissed defense arguments that his office has unlimited resources to devote to the case. He also emphasized that just as Kwiatkowski is owed adequate time to prepare for trial, the victims also have a right to see the case settled in a timely fashion.

In his request, Saxe noted that his office has only two attorneys and one investigator to sift through more than 10,000 files associated with the case so far. The defense lawyers also argued that under the automatic budget cuts that began taking effect in March, each employee in the office is required to take 16 furlough days before October, which amounts to nearly 400 lost hours.

Kwiatkowski, who pleaded not guilty to 14 drug charges in December, is accused of stealing painkiller syringes from Exeter Hospital's cardiac catheterization lab and replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his own blood.

Thirty-two people in New Hampshire and a dozen people in other states have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C carried by Kwiatkowski, who worked at 18 hospitals in seven states before being hired in Exeter in April 2011.


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