The trial for a woman accused of theft from a hospice patient has been put on hold after a grand jury indicted the woman on additional charges of theft from the same patient.
Heather Driscoll was set to stand trial Oct. 19-25 for theft from Alicia Christopherson, a vulnerable adult under the care of Driscoll’s then-husband Michael Lowe.
Lowe’s Nov. 1 trial in Payson for theft from Christopherson still stands. That trial is expected to last four to eight days.
Meanwhile, it will not be until at least March 20 that Driscoll stands trial.
A grand jury initially indicted Driscoll for taking between $4,000 and $25,000 from Christopherson between Aug. 5, 2004 and Oct. 31, 2004 to purchase a vehicle. The defense has said that the vehicle would have been used to transport Christopherson, while the state maintains Driscoll acted inappropriately taking these funds.
Gila County Attorney Patti Wortman said while preparing for the Oct. 19 trial, it became apparent that Driscoll “was more involved in the larger scheme of things than first thought.”
“Both cases are based on the same conduct or are otherwise connected together in their commission,” Wortman wrote in a court filing.
On Sept. 28, a grand jury indicted Driscoll on an additional count of theft, this time for acts occurring between June 2003 and March 2008, the same period Lowe is standing trial for next week.
On Sept. 29, Wortman asked the court to consolidate Driscoll’s cases into one, but Driscoll’s attorney, Michael Bernays, opposed the merger. Bernays has until Nov. 4 to file a written response stating his reason against consolidation. Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill will then rule on the matter.
At Monday’s case management conference, Bernays cited double jeopardy as one of his reasons.
However, Wortman said that the state could present evidence for the first charge that does not spill over into the other case, but because Bernays would likely present evidence and testimony that overlaps between both charges, Wortman suggested consolidating the cases to avoid presenting the same evidence twice.
Driscoll’s next case management conference is at 10 a.m. on Dec. 12 in Payson.