Weather Forecast


Former Dell Rapids nursing home worker on trial for abuse

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- A former employee at a Dell Rapids nursing home is on trial for allegedly assaulting a patient last November.

Heather Laird, 36, pleaded not guilty earlier this year to abuse of a disabled adult. She faces up to two years in prison if convicted, the Argus Leader reported ( ).

Laird is accused of abusing a 76-year-old woman while giving her medication last November, including pulling the patient by her hair, using a knee to pin down the patient's legs and squeezing her chest.

"About that time, she gets hit in a face with water out of a cup or pitcher that's kept beside her bed," Minnehaha County Deputy State's Attorney Lori Ehlers said Tuesday in her opening statement to the jury. "The comment then made to (the woman) was that 'you need to take your pills.'"

Defense attorney Melissa Fiksdal said the patient was disoriented and startled when Laird woke her up, and has struggled with memory problems. She also questioned why the woman didn't cry for help from a nurse or from the other two patients in the room.

"She was 30 feet away from the nurses' station," Fiksdal said. "There were other people on duty that night and a person was laying on the bed not 2 1/2 feet away, and she never cried for help. Not once."