OKLAHOMA CITY —
An Oklahoma prosecutor has opened plea negotiations with a former physician assistant at the Claremore Veterans Center who is charged in the neglect-related deaths of two elderly patients, a defense attorney said Wednesday.
An Oklahoma multicounty grand jury indictment unsealed last month accuses Kenneth Adams, 60, of two felony counts of second-degree murder — or the alternative charge of second-degree manslaughter — and neglect by a caretaker. The grand jury also indicted Adams on a misdemeanor count of failing to initiate an investigation into the victims’ deaths. He has pleaded not guilty.
A hearing was scheduled in the case Wednesday in Rogers County District Court, but defense attorney Trevor Reynolds of Tulsa said the hearing was postponed after the prosecutor in the case, Assistant Attorney General Mykel Fry, offered Adams a plea deal. Reynolds declined to disclose the nature of the plea offer and said he first needs to discuss it with his client.
A spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office, Diane Clay, also declined to disclose specifics about the plea offer.
“There are negotiations, but it’s still fairly early in the process,” Clay said.
Meanwhile, Wednesday’s hearing was postponed until Aug. 28, when Special Judge Terrell Crossen could set a date for a preliminary hearing in the case. Adams remains free after posting a $100,000 bond.
The indictment accuses Adams of committing caretaker neglect in March 2012 that led to the death of Louis Arterberry, 86, who the indictment says was “a vulnerable adult” Adams was assigned to care for.
It accuses Adams of neglecting his duties by ignoring signs that Arterberry was suffering a stroke while Adams was “engaged in communications with another person in an effort to arrange a sexual liaison.”
Adams is also accused of committing caretaker abuse in May 2012 that led to the death of Peter “Jay” Minter, 85, after Minter suffered burns over more than 50 percent of his body. The indictment says Adams knew the severity of the burns but allowed Minter “to languish without proper care until he succumbed to death.”
A final accusation alleges Adams provided “false and misleading information” to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, which investigates the cause of unexplained deaths. The information caused investigators to not perform an investigation into the manner and cause of Minter’s death.
Adams faces possible penalties of up to life in prison if found guilty of the murder counts.