Judge declares former caregiver innocent in case of ALS patient’s death

Posted at 12:56 PM, May 16, 2018

A former caregiver whose involuntary manslaughter conviction had previously been overturned for the death of a Solvang woman who had ALS has now also been declared "factually innocent."

The ruling for the motion involving Wanda Nelson was made last Thursday by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rogelio Flores, according to Santa Barbara County Senior Deputy Public Defender Lori Pedego.

In 2016, Nelson was acquitted of first and second-degree murder but convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Heidi Good. Late last year, a California appeals court overturned the verdict.

Good, who had ALS, died at her Solvang home in March 2013 when her ventilator failed. Nelson was her caregiver but was reportedly at the store when the ventilator malfunctioned.

Nelson and Heidi’s 89-year-old mother, Marjorie Good, were both charged in connection with Heidi’s death.

Prosecutors argued the two conspired to kill Heidi for financial gain, but Marjorie Good claimed she was outside when the ventilator alarm sounded and she did not hear it.

The jury in Marjorie Good’s case deadlocked on a verdict and the judge declared a mistrial. Prosecutors decided not to seek another trial.

The Second Appellate District Court ruled that Nelson was not negligent by leaving Heidi in her mother’s care and reversed her conviction.

Although the conviction had been reversed, Pedego says she then filed a motion earlier this year to have Nelson declared innocent, which she calls "a much higher standard."