Caregiver found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Solvang mu - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Caregiver found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Solvang murder case

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Wanda Nelson (Photo: KSBY) Wanda Nelson (Photo: KSBY)

The jury in a local murder trial came back with a verdict Thursday for one of the two women charged in the death of Heidi Good, a Solvang woman who had ALS.

Both Good's caregiver and her mother were charged in her death. Wanda Nelson, the caregiver, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter Thursday.

Nelson was found not guilty of both first and second degree murder. She is released on her own recognizance for now. Friday, April 1, will be her sentencing hearing.

Meanwhile, Marjorie Good's fate is still up in the air. Closing arguments in her case wrapped up Thursday.

The prosecution claims the two women had financial motives to kill Heidi, that Marjorie Good was worried she was being taken out of her daughter's will.

"Heidi died within minutes," said Santa Barbara County Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Gresser. "But each of those minutes, she knew what was happening to her."

Good's attorney, David Bixby, argued detectives did not do their due diligence when they ruled out Heidi's husband, Stephen Swiacki, whose truck GPS was traced to Goleta when Heidi died.

Bixby argued that Swiacki's GPS was off and therefore untraceable for 84 minutes around the time Heidi Good died, because his truck was turned off during that time.

"In less than 16 hours, (Swiacki) is contacting escrow asking, "Can I get the check in my name?" Bixby said. "He gets $350,000 in life insurance."

The prosecution argued Heidi Good was purposely sedated before her breathing machine was disconnected and the alarm went off.

"She sat there without any ability to move, any ability to reconnect that ventilator," Gresser said.

Marjorie Good was said to be gardening in the yard with electric hedge trimmers when the alarm sounded. Good's defense has argued she could not hear the alarm going off.

"How do we know that she can hear the alarm?" Gresser said. "Because she was tested."

Gresser played a video clip of Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Detective Matt Fenske standing with Marjorie Goodin her front yard, where she said she was when the alarm went off the day Heidi died,

"Is that the alarm?" Marjorie Good says in the video.

"Does it sound like the alarm?" Detective Fenske says.

Good responds, "Yes."

"She is trying to honestly serve these guys," Bixby said. "She's doing her best. And she asked the question, 'Is that the alarm I hear?' And now it's being used to prove that she heard the alarm and killed her daughter."

"But they weren't willing to do the things that needed to be done to have an objective investigation," Bixby said.

Good's jury began deliberating after closing arguments finished.

Jurors have heard more than two-and-a-half months worth of testimony in this case.

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