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Opening statements Tuesday in trial of ousted Central Florida guardian

todaySeptember 14, 2022 2

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TAMPA, Fla. — Opening statements are scheduled to start today in the trial of a former Central Florida guardian.

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

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

What You Need To Know

  • Professional guardian on trial after the death of seniors in her care

  • Rebecca Fierle facing charges of abusing and neglecting an incapacitated client

  • Fierle oversaw the medical care of dozens of seniors across the state; case 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.

According to Stryker’s daughter Kim, that’s what happened on May 13, 2019 at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa. Because of the DNR order from Fierle, hospital staff couldn’t work to help Stryker and he died as a result.

The case now has Fierle facing charges of abusing and neglecting the elder Stryker. A jury was selected Tuesday.

The case forced a state investigation into the guardianship program in Orange County. It found a dozen problem cases out of 3,000 dating back to 2007. There had been eight prior complaints concerning Fierle before the Stryker case.

Fierlie resigned as a result of the audit and was removed from 98 patient cases in Orange and Osceola counties.

The case ultimately drove lawmakers to unanimously vote to amend Florida’s guardianship law in 2020. Requiring permission from a family member or judge before requesting a DNR order.

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

It’s unclear how long this trial will last or exactly how long she could spend in prison if convicted.

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