Emergency-room statements scrutinized in attempted-murder trial
Whether Pamela Smith was coherent enough to answer questions when she was brought to the emergency room at Barton Memorial Hospital by her husband, Konolus Smith, was the focus of much of Wednesday’s testimony in an attempted-murder trial.
Meyers resident Konolus Smith is accused in El Dorado County Superior Court of trying to murder his wife by forcing her to swallow a combination of pills in the early-morning hours of Aug. 29.
Deputy District Attorney Peter O’Hara called Steve Coburn, an El Dorado County Sheriff’s deputy, and two emergency room nurses who cared for Pamela Smith to the stand.
Coburn told the jury of seven men and five women that he responded to a report of an attempted suicide at Barton and found Pamela Smith in the emergency room, unable to hold a conversation.
The nurses testified that, although Pamela Smith groaned or made noise while in the emergency room, she was unable to form coherent sentences.
“She would make sounds, but they weren’t recognizable; they were slurred,” said Corey Reier, one of the nurses who testified.
During his cross-examination of Chris Munson, the second nurse called to testify, defense attorney Jordan Morgenstern highlighted an item on the nurses’ assessment of the patient which reads, “patient slow to answer questions.”
“Meaning she may have answered them, but slowly?” Morgenstern asked Munson.
In his opening statement, Morgenstern said Pamela Smith has made several conflicting statements about what transpired Aug. 29. According to the prosecution, Konolus Smith tied up his wife and threatened her with a pair of scissors to force her to swallow a combination of pills, including Tylenol PM.
Using a projector and large screen to display hospital records, Morgenstern singled out several other entries on the nurses’ initial assessment of Pamela Smith.
One of the entries stated that, during her time in the emergency room, Pamela Smith said she overdosed on Tylenol PM.
The entry was a mistake, Munson said.
Konolus Smith was the one who made the statement about an overdose, not his wife, according to Munson.
Although an entry later was added to the nurses’ assessment stating it was Konolus Smith who made the statement about a possible overdose, the initial entry remains on the assessment.
A second item that Morgenstern drew attention to on the nurses’ assessment was an entry that said Pamela Smith did not report being threatened or abused before her entry to the emergency room.
Munson said he made the entry because of Pamela Smith’s inability to form coherent sentences in the emergency room. Without the item being completed, he would be unable to continue with the assessment, Munson said.
The trial is expected to continue until early next week.