HILLSBORO COUNTY, Florida. After one trial and a pleading no contest, former Florida curator Rebecca Fierle was given a four-year suspended sentence.
Firla had nothing to say as she left the Hillsborough County courtroom on Friday, escaping jail time.
Hillsborough County Judge Sam Ward did not consider jail time to be the best option; she called Fierle’s actions “wrong”.
“A very sad situation for everyone. The defense provided many letters, and what struck me reading them all was everyone’s opinion of what a great person she is. But no one paid attention to the fact that she was charged with a crime. The reality is that what she did was wrong,” Judge Ward said.
After the trial, which ended with the participation of the jury, Firle did not challenge the charge of neglecting an elderly person. She was initially charged with causing the death of her patient Stephen Stryker by removing his feeding tube and signing a waiver of resuscitation, despite hospital staff saying he told them he wanted to stay alive.
At sentencing, the defense called five witnesses, including her two children and her ex-husband. They testified that Fierle was an excellent caretaker.
“Without a doubt, she was one of the best caregivers I have ever worked with, despite her heavy workload,” said Harry Hackney.
Judge Ward was not convinced.
“I cannot pass judgment on the basis of non-acknowledgement of responsibility. I can pass judgment on the fact that I believe that she does not have any cases of state guardianship of the elderly to provide them with any services, based on the behavior that I heard during the trial, ”said Judge Ward.
Hillary Hogue has vowed to fight what she sees as bad guardians in the state.
“My family was overwhelmed by the commercial ward in Collier County. This is a clandestine underground operation. I’m more afraid of the word “guardianship” than the word “cancer,” she said.
She left the courtroom, disappointed by the verdict.
“This is not enough. Tracey Hudson was sentenced to 8 and a half years in prison. Firle walked and she did more because the man lost his life.”
While on probation, Fierle cannot work in any job that is closely related to people in need of help.