Former caregiver charged with manslaughter in disabled Vancouver woman's death

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: December 29, 2011, 6:01 PM

 

A former in-home caregiver has been charged with first-degree manslaughter for allegedly causing the death of a disabled Vancouver woman by withholding medical treatment, prosecutors said.

Karin M. Depee, 61, was arrested Thursday afternoon in connection to the June 23 death of 39-year-old Rachelle Beverly Law. The arrest warrant also charges Depee with first-degree criminal mistreatment.

She was arrested in Beaverton, Ore., where she’s currently living, and booked in the Washington County Jail, said Vancouver police Sgt. Scott Creager. It’s uncertain when she will appear in Clark County Superior Court, as she first has to be extradited.

Depee’s arrest followed a six-month investigation by Vancouver police into the circumstances that led to Law’s death.

According to charging documents, Law met Depee through the Special Olympics program and moved into Depee’s Vancouver apartment in February. Law was developmentally delayed and needed help managing her diabetes.

Depee was paid living expenses by Law’s family. However, she’s not a licensed medical provider.

On June 21, Law, after several days of being sick, was admitted to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. A doctor told Law’s mother that the woman had aspirated vomit and now had pneumonia. Law also had bruises on her upper arms, consistent with being grabbed by the arm, according to court documents. She also suffered from diabetic ketoacidosis, or a life-threatening complication of diabetes resulting from a shortage of insulin.

Vancouver police detectives discovered Depee had alerted Law’s mother four days prior that Law was continually vomiting. Prompted to call 911 by Law’s mother, Depee declined because she said Law was not listed on her lease and she didn’t want to get evicted, according to charging papers.

Law’s mother called 911 and Law was rushed to the hospital and put on life support. Doctors said in addition to Law’s pneumonia, her glucose level, 597, was nearly six times higher than the normal range and her low potassium level could have led to a heart attack, according to court documents.

Law’s mother told investigators she had warned Depee to ensure she injected Law with the correct amount of insulin. However, police found two metered glucose tests performed the month before: Law’s glucose level was well above average, according to charging papers.

Law was taken off life support on June 23. Clark County Medical Examiner Dennis Wickham concluded her cause of death was pneumonia and reportedly determined it was a homicide “based on the deliberate act of not providing medical treatment,” according to court documents.

First-degree manslaughter, a Class A felony, is defined as recklessly causing the death of another person.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts; www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.