Fall trial set for pharmacist in 11 Michigan meningitis deaths after plea deal talks fizzle

A fall trial has been set for a pharmacist charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of 11 Michigan residents

Ed White
Friday 17 May 2024 22:12 BST
US Meningitis Deaths-Michigan
US Meningitis Deaths-Michigan

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A judge set a fall trial Friday for a pharmacist charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of 11 Michigan residents who died in a 2012 meningitis outbreak linked to contaminated steroids from a Massachusetts lab.

Efforts by Glenn Chin and state prosecutors to reach a plea bargain “have been unsuccessful,” said Livingston County Judge Matthew McGivney, who set jury selection for Nov. 4.

Michigan is the only state to charge Chin and Barry Cadden, an executive at the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Massachusetts, for deaths related to the outbreak.

More than 700 people in 20 states were sickened with fungal meningitis or other debilitating illnesses, and dozens died as a result of tainted steroids shipped to pain clinics, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The lab's “clean room,” where steroids were prepared and staff typically wore coveralls and hairnets, was rife with mold, insects and cracks, investigators said. Chin supervised production.

Chin, 56, is currently serving a 10 1/2-year federal sentence for racketeering, fraud and other crimes connected to the outbreak, following a 2017 trial in Boston.

"I am truly sorry that this ever occurred," he said at his federal sentencing.

Chin’s attorney, James Buttrey, declined to comment outside court Friday.

In April, while waiting for a status hearing in the case, Buttrey told a prosecutor that Chin was concerned that a plea deal in Michigan still could keep him in custody beyond his federal sentence.

Chin’s lawyers have repeatedly argued that second-degree murder charges are not appropriate, though they have lost at every turn.

“There has never been a second-degree murder charge arising from what is really a products liability case in this country. Certainly this is a novel idea in Michigan,” attorney Kevin Gentry told the state Supreme Court in 2022.

Cadden, 57, was recently sentenced to at least 10 years in prison after pleading no contest to involuntary manslaughter. Second-degree murder charges were dropped.

Cadden's Michigan sentence will run at the same time as his 14 1/2-year federal sentence, and he will also get credit for time in custody since 2018. Overall it means he might not have to serve any additional time behind bars, a result that rankles victims' families.

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