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Mistrial declared in ousted Florida guardian's neglect trial

todaySeptember 16, 2022 1

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TAMPA, Fla. — A mistrial was declared Monday in the case of a former Central Florida guardian.


What You Need To Know

  • Rebecca Fierle had faced charges of abusing and neglecting an incapacitated client

  • Jury deliberated for part of the day Friday and Monday, but could not reach a verdict

  • The case sparked a statewide scandal in Florida’s guardianship system and eventually led to new laws in 2020 to better protect seniors

Rebecca Fierle, the professional guardian ousted from hundreds of cases following the death of a ward in her care, had faced charges of abusing and neglecting an incapacitated client.

The jury began deliberating early Friday afternoon and continued Monday, but jurors could not agree on a verdict. The judge in the case asked jurors to keep trying, but no verdict was reached, resulting in the mistrial.

The case sparked a statewide scandal in Florida’s guardianship system and eventually led to new laws in 2020 to better protect seniors.

Fierle oversaw the medical care of dozens of seniors across the state, but that came to a halt in May of 2019. The family of 74-year-old Steven Stryker, one of her patients, says she issued a do not resuscitate order for Stryker, even though he wanted to live.

Stryker’s family says Fierle signed the DNR without permission.

Prosecutors pointed out that Fierle only visited her client three times as his court-appointed guardian.

“Ms. Fierle was a stranger, a stranger to Mr. Stryker,” prosecutor Cass Castillo said Friday. “She was in absolutely no position to make any judgments about what Mr. Stryker’s quality of life was.”

The defense argued Fierle did a good job making complicated decisions.

Jurors were reminded of testimony describing Stryker’s physical health as deteriorating, and behavioral and psychological issues including PTSD and bi-polar disorder.

“There is no evidence at all that Rebecca Fierle treated Mr. Stryker other than with dignity, other than with respect, other than professionally,” said defense attorney Warren Lindsey.

Since her arrest, Fierle has not talked to the media.

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