CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — A judge has ruled there is enough evidence to try a former Kansas City-area respiratory therapist for the death of a hospital patient 20 years ago.

The Livingston County, Missouri, prosecutor charged 41-year-old Jennifer Anne Hall with first-degree murder in the 2002 murder of Fern Franco.

Hall previously pleaded not guilty to the charge.

During a preliminary hearing this week, prosecutors presented evidence in their case. After hearing the evidence against Hall, a judge determined there is enough proof that a crime was likely committed.

Franco had been hospitalized at Hedrick Medical Center in Chillicothe. She died in May 2002.

Court documents show Hall and another employee discovered Franco wasn’t breathing in her hospital bed. The nurse said Hall was near Franco’s room at the time Franco stopped breathing and Hall entered Franco’s room with her, which she thought was strange.

Staff attempted to revive Franco as she was “coding” and gave her atropine and epinephrine, but no other substances.

During an autopsy, a coroner found the presence of succinylcholine and morphine. An investigation determined the drugs were not prescribed to Franco or ordered by her doctors.

According to the probable cause, hospital employees reported the number of cardiac emergencies among patients receiving care at the medical center rose to 18 during Hall’s employment. Before she was hired, the hospital averaged one incident a year.

Hall is scheduled to be back in court for an arraignment Sept. 8.

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