PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania judge ordered a nurse Monday to stand trial in the fatal fall of the father of former national security adviser H.R. McMaster while he was receiving treatment at a Philadelphia senior care facility.
Judge Karen Y. Simmons issued her ruling after a two-part preliminary hearing that included hours of surveillance footage and testimony from nurses, a Health Department regulator, investigators and a medical examiner.
Simmons ordered Christann Gainey, a 30-year-old former contract nurse at the Cathedral Village senior care facility in Philadelphia, to stand trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter, neglect of care of a dependent person and tampering with records.
"To say that this is tragic is the biggest understatement I can say. That Ms. Gainey is the only person before me ... is also tragic," Simmons said, adding that she would find the same for anyone else who had been responsible for H.R. McMaster Sr.'s care at the facility.
The Pennsylvania attorney general's office officially charged Gainey in May, and the judge ruled Monday that there was enough evidence to proceed to trial. Nobody else at the facility has been charged in relation to McMaster's death.
Prosecutors contend that McMaster fell and struck his head in April, and died hours later as the result of bleeding in his brain. They say Gainey, who was the Licensed Practical Nurse on duty that night, was required by facility medical policy to perform neurological and vital sign checks on him periodically.
They said Gainey falsified records to show she had done the checks. Prosecutors played several hours of surveillance footage during Monday's hearing to show Gainey was not near McMaster at the times she recorded the checks had been done, including one that would have happened after he had died.
Gainey's attorney, Sharon Piper, said the footage showed a woman who was working to care for the 38 patients on the floor, not someone who was sitting back and avoiding her job. Piper said she believes her client is the scapegoat in a case involving the father of a former national security adviser for President Donald Trump. She alleged that phone calls from the White House influenced the aggressiveness of the investigation and the decision to file criminal charges.