Judge OKs trial for Illinois paramedics in patient’s death

Jan 19, 2023, 8:59 PM | Updated: Jan 21, 2023, 4:13 am
Rosena Washington, left, mother of Earl Moore Jr., and NAACP Springfield, Ill., branch president an...

Rosena Washington, left, mother of Earl Moore Jr., and NAACP Springfield, Ill., branch president and state director Teresa Haley, comfort each other during a news conference, Thursday Jan. 19, 2023 in Springfield. Moore's family has filed a lawsuit against the two paramedics and their employer, in the death of Moore attorneys said Thursday. (Thomas Turney/The State Journal-Register via AP)

(Thomas Turney/The State Journal-Register via AP)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Two Illinois emergency medical professionals should be tried on first-degree murder charges after a patient they strapped facedown to a stretcher suffocated, a judge ruled Friday.

Peggy Finley and Peter Cadigan are charged in the December death of 35-year-old Earl Moore in Springfield. They pleaded not guilty Friday and are being held in the Sangamon County Jail on $1 million bond each.

If convicted, Finley, 44, and Cadigan, 50, could each face 20 to 60 years in prison. Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow issued her decision following a contentious 3 1/2-hour preliminary hearing.

Springfield police first responded to Moore’s home around 2 a.m. on Dec. 18. Police body camera video shows that a woman inside the home told an officer that Moore was in withdrawal from alcohol and hallucinating.

Finley and Cadigan were summoned to the apartment. The body camera video shows the officers trying to get Moore to his feet to walk out the door for medical assistance, and then placing him in a prone position on the gurney. Cadigan, an emergency medical technician, strapped him in while Finley, a paramedic, put a blanket over him.

Finley later told hospital officials and an investigator that Moore had been combative.

An autopsy revealed that Moore died of “positional asphyxiation” and that he had two broken ribs, which State’s Attorney Dan Wright attributed during Friday’s hearing to Moore’s being strapped in so tightly facedown.

“There’s no medical reason to transport someone in a prone position,” Wright said.

Referring to the video, Wright continued: “Clearly, Mr. Moore is not combative. He was the complete opposite of combative. He needed help. For them to cover themselves by telling hospital staff that he was combative goes to their credibility.”

“If this goes to trial, the state is going to have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that when they placed him on the gurney, that they thought to themselves, ‘I think I’m killing him,'” said Justin Kuehn, one of Cadigan’s attorneys. “Were their acts reckless? That’s for another day.”

As the defendants entered the courtroom, Finley saw seven family members sitting in the front row. She took a seat at the defense table and with tears streaming down her face looked at her family and mouthed, “I’m sorry.”

Family members declined to comment to The Associated Press.

Under Illinois law, a first-degree murder charge applies when a defendant “knows that such acts create a strong probability of death or great bodily harm.” Experts have said it’s rare for emergency medical providers to face criminal charges in a patient’s death.

Friday’s hearing was riddled with objections, mostly from defense attorneys who claimed Wright was creating testimony in questioning the lone witness, Sgt. Zachary Weisahaar, an Illinois State Police investigator.

Finley and Cadigan told Weisahaar that Moore had been combative. Cadigan said he based that conclusion on seeing Moore flailing and a police officer jump out of the way, Weisahaar said.

Bodycam footage showed Moore unable or unwilling to stand on his own and at times thrashing. His blood-alcohol level was .077, which is just under the legal limit for driving in Illinois of .08. After entering the apartment, Finley yelled at Moore to get up.

Weisahaar said Finley told him that she monitored Moore’s vital signs on the way to HSHS St. John’s Hospital. But Wright played for the court a recording of Finley’s call to alert the hospital of their arrival in which she said, “I’m not messing with vitals because I don’t want to poke the bear.”

Both Finley and Cadigan had sufficient training and knowledge to know that Moore’s position was detrimental, Weisahaar testified. He said Cadigan told him that in 20 years, he had never been instructed that putting a patient in the prone position was dangerous.

Weisahaar also said he learned that Cadigan had attended two training sessions just last year in which the instructor insisted that warning against prone positions was emphasized.

Another Cadigan attorney, Edward Unsell, said it’s more likely that the broken ribs Moore suffered resulted from hospital staffers’ attempts to resuscitate him.

Finley’s attorney, W. Scott Hanken, said the charges aren’t warranted.

“There are two venues — civil and criminal. We’re in the wrong venue,” Hanken said. “You’ve not heard one scintilla of evidence that goes to accountability.”

Their next court date is Feb. 6. Their attorneys say they will seek their release on personal recognizance.

Moore’s family announced Thursday that they have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Finley, Cadigan and their employer, LifeStar Ambulance Service.


Foody reported from Chicago.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


President Joe Biden talks with Vice President Kamala Harris after the State of the Union address to...
Associated Press

Biden makes Wisconsin his 1st stop after State of the Union

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday was headed to Wisconsin, a battleground state he won by the slimmest of margins in 2020, to press his economic message and other themes from his State of the Union address in the window before his next big speech: announcing a possible reelection bid. Biden was set […]
1 day ago
FILE - People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Gr...
Associated Press

International team to present update on MH17 investigation

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An international team is presenting an update Wednesday on its investigation into the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. The announcement comes nearly three months after a Dutch court convicted two Russians and a Ukrainian rebel for their roles in shooting down the Boeing 777 and […]
1 day ago
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U...
Associated Press

China says it was smeared in Biden State of the Union speech

BEIJING (AP) — China says it was smeared in U.S. President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address that repeatedly mentioned competition between the two countries. China does not fear competing with the U.S. but is “opposed to defining the entire China-U.S. relationship in terms of competition,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a […]
1 day ago
FILE - A sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif., Sept. 24, 201...
Associated Press

Google hopes ‘Bard’ will outsmart ChatGPT, Microsoft in AI

Google is girding for a battle of wits in the field of artificial intelligence with “Bard," a conversational service apparently aimed at countering the popularity of the ChatGPT tool backed by Microsoft.
1 day ago
South Korean Interior and Safety Minister Lee Sang-min arrives to attend a meeting on integrated de...
Associated Press

South Korean lawmakers impeach minister over crowd crush

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s opposition-controlled parliament on Wednesday voted to impeach the country’s interior and safety minister, Lee Sang-min, holding him responsible for government failures in disaster planning and the response that likely contributed to the high death toll in a crowd crush that killed nearly 160 people in October. The impeachment […]
1 day ago
A sign stands on a quiet day in what used to be AmericaÅfs largest overseas naval base at the Subi...
Associated Press

US forces returning to Philippines to counter China threats

SUBIC BAY, Philippines (AP) — Once-secret ammunition bunkers and barracks lay abandoned, empty and overrun by weeds — vestiges of American firepower in what used to be the United States’ largest overseas naval base at Subic Bay in the northern Philippines. But that may change in the near future. The U.S. has been taking steps […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Judge OKs trial for Illinois paramedics in patient’s death