LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A former nurse at Lexington's Veterans Affairs Medical Center has been charged in the death three years ago of a 90-year-old World War II veteran who was at the hospital off Cooper Drive.
In a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday morning, Maria K. Whitt is charged with killing Jesse Lee Chain by injecting him with lethal levels of morphine.
Whitt, 32, of Mount Sterling, was working at the medical center at the time of Chain's death.
Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn said that Chain had been a resident of the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore before he went to the VA hospital. Chain died in the hospital's intensive care unit Sept. 3, 2006, he said.
Ginn, who ruled the death a homicide, said the length of time it has taken to put the case before a grand jury might be because federal officials have been poring over the medical records of other Lexington VA Medical Center patients since it was determined that Chain's death was a homicide.
"It's my understanding that they are reviewing or have reviewed many medical records, which has possibly delayed this case," the coroner said.
Lexington police, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been looking into Chain's death, the coroner said.
Ginn said he is reviewing another more recent death at the VA hospital.
On Sept. 22, Jennifer Kay Angelini, 42, a registered nurse at the VA hospital, was found dead in a hospital staff restroom. Angelini was found in a locked restroom on the sixth floor, which houses the hospital's intensive care unit. Ginn said he's looking to toxicology test results for clues to her death.
Ginn said his office has been involved only in the investigations into the deaths of Chain and Angelini at the VA hospital, but will look into other VA hospital deaths if VA officials ask him to do so.