- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 2, 2006

SOMERVILLE, N.J. (AP) — A former nurse who admitted to killing as many as 40 patients was ordered imprisoned for the rest of his life yesterday after relatives of his victims confronted him at a hearing, calling him “the monster” and blaming him for wrecking their lives.

Charles Cullen received 11 consecutive life terms in prison, making him ineligible for parole for nearly 400 years.

“You betrayed the ancient foundations of the healing professions,” Superior Court Judge Paul W. Armstrong said.

Cullen, 46, stood quietly as the judge admonished him for murdering 22 persons in New Jersey and attempting to kill three others. Cullen has claimed to have killed up to 40 people during a nursing career that began in 1987.

He will be sentenced later for seven murders and three attempted murders in Pennsylvania.

The sentence was handed down after relatives of his victims recalled fond memories of their loved ones, but also talked about how the killings and their aftermath ruined marriages, careers and report cards.

The hearing yesterday was the first chance for victims’ relatives to confront Cullen in court, and about 60 appeared. Many were hoping to hear Cullen explain why he committed the crimes, but he did not.

“He will always be known as the monster,” Dolores Stasienko, 59, of Kitty Hawk, N.C., said of Cullen as she held a photo of her father, Giacomino “Jack” Toto, 89, who was killed in 2003.

Cullen, wearing a black sweater over a collared shirt, sat quietly during much of the hearing. As relatives of victims spoke, he kept his eyes closed, frustrating some of the family members.

“In case he forgot what my mother looked like, look into my eyes now,” Richard J. Stoecker told Cullen. His mother was killed in 2003.

Cullen has admitted to using lethal doses of medications — most often the heart medication digoxin — to kill patients. He told authorities when he was arrested in December 2003 that he killed “very sick” patients, but some of the patients were not critically ill.

Cullen pleaded guilty as part of an unusual arrangement in which he also agreed to help investigators solve the cases of his killings, which stretched across his employment at 10 medical facilities. In exchange, the prosecutors in all seven counties where he worked agreed not to seek the death penalty.

Twenty lawsuits have been filed against the facilities where Cullen worked.

He was fired from five nursing jobs and resigned from two amid questions about his nursing practices. But until he was fired from a Somerset, N.J., hospital in 2003, he was always able to find another facility that was willing to hire him, in part because the hospitals did not share employment records.

New Jersey lawmakers have since passed legislation protecting nursing homes and hospitals from repercussions when reporting disciplinary actions taken against employees for professional misconduct or improper patient care.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide