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20 years after spate of hospital deaths, ex-worker accused

Twenty years after a spate of deaths at a rural Missouri hospital, a former worker has been charged with murder.

According to a police investigator, in the five months that Jennifer Anne Hall was a respiratory therapist at Hedrick Medical Center, the Chillicothe hospital experienced 18 “code blue” incidents. The hospital historically averaged one such sudden cardiac event each year. Nine of the patients died, and nine recovered.

Livingston County's prosecutor says Fern Franco died of lethal doses of a muscle relaxant and the pain reliever morphine. Hall’s attorney says she didn't have access to those or any other drugs. He said Hall became a scapegoat because of an arson conviction that she was cleared of in 2005.

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