Stephanie Hernandez Trial
The Stephanie Hernandez Trial, Madera, CA
In the Spring of 2011, Dr. John H. Fullerton, nationally certified, was likewise qualified by the court of Madera, CA. to testify as an expert in clinical forensic medicine, including geriatrics, hospice & palliative Medicine, home care, and medical directorship during the high-profile murder trial of Stephanie Hernandez. See the Los Angeles Times article 'Elderly Healthcare: Death of 91-year-old Spotlights Line Between Care and Killing' also found in the Articles & Resources section.
The trial focused on wasting and pressure ulcers associated with end-of-life care, in this instance the great aunt of Stephanie Hernandez, Maria Lopez, who had dementia and who Stephanie cared for and lived with for three years, having been raised by her great aunt as a child.
In his testimony Dr. Fullerton explained to the jury what happens when someone like Maria Lopez lost more than half her body weight. Dr. Fullerton testified, "It's remarkable. This isn't someone whose life was cut short. This is someone whose life was extended by living at home." He went on to testify, "The sores? They were unavoidable. When a dying person whose weight plummets is confined to bed, the skin fails like any other organ [Terminal Skin Failure]."
Dr. Fullerton's direct testimony proved instrumental to the defense. Stephanie Hernandez was dismissed of the charges of murder, involuntary manslaughter and felony elder abuse and was freed after having been incarcerated since her arrest 14 months earlier.