Robert Diaz handmade card
Robert Diaz handmade card
In early 1981, Community Hospital of the Valleys in Perris, California experienced an abnormally large number of deaths among its most elderly patients. To gather evidence, the coroner exhumed or intercepted all the patients who had recently died and he collected tissue samples from them. The coroner found that 11 patients had a supposedly lethal level of the heart drug lidocaine in their system. Investigators focused on Diaz, a male nurse, who worked at the hospital during many of the deaths. They also investigated his previous employment and came up with a 12th patient from another hospital whose exhumed body showed a supposedly lethal level of lidocaine.
High levels of lidocaine were not necessarily indicative of poisoning, as hospital staff often used the drug on its patients. There was no direct evidence against Diaz. No one had seen him inject a patient with a fatal dose of anything. He had no apparent motive to kill anyone. A syringe filled with an especially high solution of lidocaine was found hidden in the Valleys hospital seven months after it closed.
Following his arrest, numerous pre-filled lidocaine syringes were found in Diaz’ home. At least two of these syringes contained 20 percent solutions of lidocaine while marked as two percent (i.e. 10 times the concentration marked). Also found in his home were vials of 20 percent lidocaine and empty syringes, implying that syringes were being refilled with higher concentration than their labels indicated. Diaz explained only that these articles were mistakenly taken from the hospital when absent mindedly left in his shirt pocket. No explanation was given for the apparent tampering.
Diaz claimed the ability to predict patient seizures and encouraged coworkers to take meals/breaks early in anticipation of seizures that shift. In at least one case the predicted seizures did occur. According to his wife, Diaz also spent time staring at the family cat trying to control it with his mind.
Investigators from the public defender’s office found that the hospital’s care was lax. Employees were often unable to read heart monitors and other basic equipment. Doctors often failed to respond to emergencies. During the deaths Diaz reportedly blamed the doctors who showed up late.
It was not unusual for Code Blue alerts to occur nightly and these were not limited to Diaz’ employment tenure. However it was noted during the trial that the death rate at Community Hospital of the Valleys was less than one per month during the 12 months prior to hiring Diaz. During the 3 ½ weeks following Diaz’ employment there were 17 deaths; 14 of these patients were under Diaz’s direct care at the time of seizure and death. This is a monthly death rate of 19.43 per month.
Following standard procedures, Diaz’ defense would be extraordinarily costly to the cash strapped public defender’s office. A new administrator fired all the investigators and implemented a budget defense for Diaz. At trial, Diaz’ defense motioned for a bench trial.
The judge convicted Diaz of 12 counts of first-degree murder. At sentencing the defense failed to present a single character witness; his five children and his wife did not make an appeal. Diaz’s wife believes her husband was responsible based on the evidence presented as well as her personal experiences with him. Initially, however, she supported her husband. The defense’s short plea for mercy was that Diaz had saved the state a considerable amount of money. The judge was not impressed and sentenced Diaz to die by either the gas chamber or lethal injection.
Robert Diaz died at a community hospital near the prison,
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman
Terry Thornton said. He had a lengthy illness. No other details
The card is handmade, and signed on the inside, Bob. The envelope is handwritten.