Riverside County Superior Court Judge Elaine Kiefer decided there was insufficient evidence to support the second-degree murder charge against a California rehabilitation center, A Better Tomorrow, and four of its employees in the 2010 death of patient Gary Benefield.
Gary Benefield was seeking treatment for an alcohol drinking problem.
Legal experts have noted the importance of this murder charge which may have been intended to put California’s drug and rehabilitation industry on alert.
Prosecutors argued the company killed Benefield by allowing employees with little or no medical training to give him drugs without consulting a physician or getting a prescription.
“Patients and family members rely on the promises of caregivers and trust they will provide the best possible care to their loved ones,” spokeswoman Rachele Huennekens said.
Brian Hennigan, an attorney representing one of the employee defendants, said the dismissal brought a “great feeling of relief.” “We got a fair hearing, had a chance to present our evidence, and the court reached the right conclusion.”