A 35-year-old central Minnesota woman is charged with murder after allegedly silencing the alarm on an oxygen-monitoring device and allowing her severely disabled child to die.
Elise C. Nelson, of Paynesville, was charged Wednesday in Stearns County District Court with second-degree intentional murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with the child’s death in June.
The child, 13-year-old Kylie Larson, had medical problems including chronic respiratory failure and severe developmental delay from a loss of oxygen at birth, the criminal complaint read.
Autopsy results from the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, while attributing Kylie’s death to complications during birth, also said Nelson “deprived care resulting in death,” the charges read.
Nelson was booked into jail Wednesday, appeared in court Thursday and remains held in lieu of $350,000 bail before an Oct. 8 hearing. Court records list no attorney for her.
Kylie’s parents sued in 2008 on their daughter’s behalf alleging medical malpractice by Affiliated Community Medical Centers and Rice Memorial Hospital in connection with Kylie’s difficulties at birth and were awarded $23.2 million by a jury.
However, the defendants filed motions with then-Kandiyohi District Judge Donald Spilseth in opposition to that amount. The judge ordered both sides to mediation, and a settlement was reached. David Alsop, attorney for the defendants, said Thursday he could not disclose the terms of the settlement, which remains sealed eight years later.
According to the criminal complaint:
With her husband on a fishing trip on June 18 and her other child staying at a family friend’s home, Nelson was alone with Kylie.
Twice in the morning of June 19, a warning alarm sounded from Kylie’s pulse oximeter, a device that clips to a finger and assesses breathing by measuring the oxygen saturation of arterial blood and a person’s pulse rate.
Nelson silenced the alarm both times and 11 hours later turned off the device, meaning that “nothing monitored the child’s oxygen saturation levels or pulse rates.” The charges also noted that the device retains data of its operational history and was in excellent working order.
Over the weekend, Nelson repeatedly silenced the alarm while adjusting the settings for when it would sound. Eventually, the device was taken off Kylie for good.
Nelson called 911 on June 21, and officers arrived to find the child on the living room floor. Kylie was taken to Paynesville Hospital and declared dead within the hour.
The mother told law enforcement that she heard the device alarm go off and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation for an hour before calling the authorities. However, officers at the scene said Nelson did not look as if she exerted herself for an hour while performing CPR.
In her online obituary, Kylie was described by family as “our gift from God. ... Her smile was so beautiful it radiated love and joy to all. Kylie enjoyed being outside and moving around, whether it be spinning around in her chair, going for walks with friends and family, or traveling to new places.”
Kylie was a student at Paynesville Middle School, where “her fellow schoolmates looked forward to pushing her around in the halls and laughing with her,” the obituary said.