Charges upheld for nurse in connection to death of H.R. McMaster's father

Ahead of trial, defense argues nurse did not break the law

Kristen Johanson
July 09, 2018 - 4:52 pm
Christann Gainey

Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The trial for a Philadelphia nurse charged in connected to the death of H.R. McMaster Sr. will move forward. 

The father of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser died in April, following a fall inside a Roxborough nursing home.

Judge Karen Simmons upheld charges, including felony neglect, involuntary manslaughter and tampering with records, against Christann Gainey, the contracted nurse caring for the 84-year-old the night he died. 

"She’s disappointed, but as we said, it’s not unexpected," said Sharon Piper, a defense attorney who represents Gainey, a 30-year-old single mother. "At this level, the burden is so low on the commonwealth that it’s not uncommon for it to be held for court."

During the two-day preliminary hearing, which spanned over two months, Simmons heard testimony from other employees, a doctor and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and watched facility surveillance video that prosecutors said show Gainey never performed critical neuro checks, which could have helped McMaster. 

"When a family selects a senior living facility, they do not expect their loved one to be found dead in the lobby of a place that was supposed to be caring for him," Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement. "This nurse ignored her job responsibilities, falsified paperwork, lied to her supervisors and neglected Mr. McMaster, who died. We’re holding her accountable and today, the court ordered the nurse held for trial on all charges."

Piper argued the alleged wrongdoing involves medical protocol, but it is not breaking the law, adding that Gainey was nearly alone in caring for 83 other people at the same time. She said Gainey was a scapegoat in the case. 

"We are confident a jury will find her not guilty," Piper added.

The judge said calling the incident tragic is an understatement — not only for McMaster, but also for the defendant, because she said clearly others were in similar positions as Gainey but haven't been charged. 

Gainey is due back in court for her arraignment on July 23.