Former caregiver appears in court on manslaughter charge

Unlicensed woman allegedly withheld medical treatment

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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A former caregiver of a disabled Vancouver woman made a first appearance in court Friday morning on suspicion of recklessly causing the woman’s death.

Karin M. Depee, 61, is accused of withholding medical care from Rachelle Beverly Law, 39, who died last June.

Depee is charged with first-degree manslaughter and first-degree criminal mistreatment.

In December, Depee was arrested by Vancouver police investigators in Beaverton, Ore., where she was staying with friends. She fought extradition to Clark County, so prosecutors had to obtain a governor’s warrant for her transportation here.

Depee will be arraigned March 6.

Judge Diane Woolard set bail at $100,000 after hearing about the allegations from Deputy Prosecutor Scott Ikata.

According to charging documents, Law met Depee through the Special Olympics program and moved into Depee’s Vancouver apartment in February 2011. Law was developmentally delayed and needed help to manage 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 breathed in vomit and developed 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, a life-threatening complication of diabetes resulting from a shortage of insulin.

Vancouver police detectives discovered that Depee had alerted Law’s mother four days prior that Law was continually vomiting. Prompted several times 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 was taken off life support June 23. Clark County Medical Examiner Dr. 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.