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Manslaughter Charges Filed Against Flint’s Chief Medical Executive

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TERRAY SYLVESTER / THE FLINT JOURNAL-MLIVE.COM VIA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
TERRAY SYLVESTER / THE FLINT JOURNAL-MLIVE.COM VIA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

On Oct. 9, 2017 in Flint, Michigan, courtroom attendees were subjected to over an hour and a half wait for the preliminary examination of Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), to begin. Wells is the second of 15 charged with wrongdoing in the Flint Water crisis to be called for preliminary examination.

A little after 11:00 not only did the court convene, but court was adjourned abruptly when special prosecutor Todd Flood announced that the prosecution was seeking to file new criminal charges against Dr. Wells, including involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office. Wells is the sixth person to face involuntary manslaughter charges for her role in the Flint Water Crisis. These two new charges are added to the existing charges of obstruction of justice and lying to a peace officer.

The defense agreed to the postponement, and preliminary examination was adjourned until  Nov. 6 at 9:00 am in order for the defense to process newly added evidence, including medical records from “victims.”  Additionally, special prosecutor Flood indicated to the court that he would like to have the entire week set aside for witness testimony.

In the initial charges, Wells is accused of threatening to withhold funding from subordinate employees and making misleading statements to the office of the Michigan Attorney General. Details concerning the specifics of the additional charges were not provided at this time.

Wells declined to comment on the case outside in the hallway while waiting to leave the building. One of the lawyers standing by Wells’ side, Jerold Lax,  indicated that there was “a lot she would like to say” but that she was not at liberty to do so. “It wouldn’t be a good idea. You understand.”

Wells continues to work as the chief medical executive for the MDHHS, even though she is facing criminal charges, and continues to deny any wrongdoing.

On Oct. 6, MDHHS Director Nick Lyon, was called to court for day four of his preliminary examination. Court for Lyon was adjourned abruptly in the afternoon when government official and key witness for the prosecution, Harvey Hollins, gave testimony that contradicted statements made by Governor Rick Snyder at a congressional hearing.  

Lyon is due back in court on November 1 for day five of his preliminary examination; Wells is due back for day two of her preliminary examination Nov. 6.

For Flint residents, while the additional felony charges against Wells are welcome and gratifying, the court proceedings are moving almost as slowly as water through a damaged, sediment clogged Flint water pipe.

The month of November will be an eventful one in Flint with a full calendar of court days scheduled.

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