Manslaughter charges considered in case of stroke victim

Kenneth C. Curnow

The Sheriff’s Coroner released on Oct. 23 a cause and manner of death report for a Ridgecrest resident James Hill, 56, which suggests that while the cause of death is an aneurism, the manner may be homicide.

Specifically the report lists the cause of death as a “massive acute subarachnoid hemorrhage, bleeding arteriovenous malformation” located in the “right middle cerebral artery” and cites as a contributing cause “methamphetamine intoxication.”

The autopsy was completed June 11 and the cause of death was determined then. “It took them till now to make their determination about the manner of death, which is a homicide,” said Ridgecrest Chief of Police Ron Strand in a phone interview with the News Review this week.

“We have our primary suspect in custody on unrelated charges and will probably forward the case to the DA next week.”

Case law precedence indicates that a person can be charged with manslaughter, and even homicide, in the deaths of stroke victims if the contributing causes are judged by the district attorney to be sufficient.  A similar case is pending in Pittsburg, as reported on in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

It remains unclear whether the DA will choose to prosecute this case, but further details will be made available when they are released.

Story First Published: 2012-11-07