Judge halts prosecution of Santa Rosa health worker accused of theft
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 6:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 6:51 p.m.
A Sonoma County judge ruled that prosecutors did not present enough evidence to place an in-home health aide on trial for stealing from an elderly client.
Judge Gary Medvigy made the finding Monday during a preliminary hearing after prosecutors and police presented a case of elder theft against Kirra Beck, 23, of Santa Rosa.
Beck was accused of making several withdrawals totaling $6,000 for her personal use from the bank account of an 89-year-old Petaluma man, who has dementia.
However Medvigy said there wasn't sufficient proof that Beck made the withdrawals without her client's consent.
Beck's attorney Andrew Martinez said she was authorized to use the man's ATM card, and often did on his behalf.
“They didn't produce the bank records, they didn't show someone living the lifestyle, working three days a week, beyond her means,” Martinez said. “There was nothing to show she had taken the money.”
Sonoma County Assistant District Attorney Christine Cook said elder protection prosecutors will re-examine the evidence, particularly the elderly man's ability to give consent. They will then decide whether to re-file charges against Beck.
“We're reevaluating the case,” Cook said.
Beck came under suspicion in June after the elderly man's daughter contacted Petaluma police out of concern about withdrawals from her father's account.
Petaluma police said that bank surveillance footage and other records showed Beck withdrew about $6,000 between April and June in $200 and $300 amounts.
Beck's attorney said prosecutors didn't provide any evidence proving where the money went.
“My thought is they're probably going to find a stash of money hidden somewhere,” in the man's home, Martinez said.
Beck lost her job during the investigation that led to her July 25 arrest and must now repair her reputation, Martinez said.
“She just wants to move on and get this behind her,” Martinez said.
Prosecutors can make one more attempt to file charges against Beck.
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