It took the jury a little more than three hours to return a guilty verdict in the trial of Eric B. Charron -- a 22-year-old nursing assistant accused of abusing a 90-year-old resident at Manzanita Manor.
Charron's trial was held last Tuesday and Wednesday in Gila County Superior Court in Globe.
Payson Police Officer John Heflin recounted his investigation of the Jan. 29, 1998 incident.
"I received a call of a delayed assault at Manzanita Manor," Heflin said Monday. "The caller alleged that one of the nurse's aides had assaulted one of the resident patients, a 90-year-old man."
When Heflin arrived, he said he talked with Charron, who admitted to an altercation with Ted Welch, but said it was nothing too serious. Charron told Heflin he was in the patient's room picking up some of the man's belongings to put them away, when the resident accused him of stealing.
"When he turned to explain to the elderly man what he was doing, the elderly man had his hand raised as if he was going to strike him," Heflin said. "Charron said he grabbed him by the wrist, and ended up causing the man to stumble backwards over the footrest."
Prosecutor Candyce Pardee presented an eye witness to the incident, who recounted a more serious version of the story.
"We had a woman, Ester Cadd, who was also a certified nursing assistant working there," Pardee said. "She testified that she heard a loud argument, and entered the man's room in time to see the defendant pick up the resident by his upper arms, and throw him onto the bed."
When the incident was reported, Manzanita Manor officials immediately called the police department.
"I want to emphasize that this was self-reporting by Manzanita Manor," Pardee said. "If they had not gone to the police, it could have been buried."
Ken Murphy, administrator of Manzanita Manor, said his policy prevents him from trying to bury any allegations of abuse.
"If there is an allegation, my policy is to contact the police department," Murphy said. "It's not a requirement of the law, but my duty is to protect the safety of my residents."
Murphy said there was no evidence of abuse in Charron's past. "We checked with the state board of nursing when we hired him, and there were no marks on his record," he said.
Testifying for the prosecution was Welch's physician, Dr. Mark Ivey. Pardee said although Welch was not injured from the incident, Ivey testified what the injuries could have been to a 90-year-old, frail man with congestive heart failure.
After two days of testimony, the case was turned over to the jury at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. By 8:30 p.m., the jury determined its verdict: Charron was found guilty of vulnerable adult abuse, a class 3 felony.
Charron's sentence could range from probation to 2 1/2 years in prison. Sentencing has been set for March 1 by Superior Court Judge Robert Duber II.