Defendant Accepts Plea Deal in Dementia Patient’s Death

On Sept. 18, Obiageriaku Iheanacho accepted a plea offer before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Jennifer B. Schiffer for her involvement in the death of an elderly patient. 

The 75-year-old patient, Ellsworth Johnson-Bey, sustained fatal injuries during an  altercation with Iheanacho. She was charged with second-degree murder, first-degree assault and abuse of a vulnerable adult resulting in physical injuries. 

The prosecution told the court that surveillance video taken at Autumn Lake Post Acute Care Center on May 15, 2022, showed the victim and Iheanacho arguing about something that Iheanacho attempted to take from him. Iheanacho then pushed Mr. Johnson-Bey to the wall where he fell over and remained for a minute-and-a-half before help arrived.

Johnson-Bey was transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a left hip fracture, then contracted pneumonia and COVID-19, ultimately dying on Sept. 5, 2022. An autopsy determined his death was a homicide and a direct consequence of Iheanacho’s actions. 

As reported by Baltimore Witness, the prosecution mentioned a plea offer on Aug. 21, but Iheanacho did not decide whether to accept or reject it. It would lessen the charges to second-degree assault and the abuse of a vulnerable adult, dropping the second-degree murder count. 

Iheanacho and her attorney, Gabriel Christian, accepted the plea offer on Sept. 18. The defense acknowledged that Iheanacho should not have argued with the patient, and that care providers are expected to maintain a level of emotional intelligence.

Iheanacho delivered an emotional apology saying, “I took you from your family. It was not intentional. I’m sorry, please.” 

As a result, Judge Schiffer accepted her plea offer and explained that she is willing to modify the sentence in the future based on how Iheanacho does moving forward. 

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