Michigan’s chief medical executive will learn on Dec. 7 whether she will face trial for involuntary manslaughter and other charges stemming from Flint’s 2014-15 water crisis.
Sixty-seventh District Court Judge William Crawford is deciding whether Eden Wells should face trial for failing “to prevent the danger” of the Legionnaires’ outbreak that killed 12 people and sickened at least 79 others in the Flint area, according to the Detroit News. Wells is also facing charges of lying to a special police agent and obstruction of justice regarding the Legionnaires’ outbreak.
In particular, Wells has been charged with involuntary manslaughter related to the death of John Snyder, whom prosecutors say died in 2015 while the city of Flint was drawing water from the Flint River.
After hearings that lasted 10 months, the case still awaits a ruling by Crawford.
Wells was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder. During hearings, special prosecutors argued that Wells should be bound over for trial because she had a duty and an obligation on behalf of Flint residents to issue a public warning on the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak and that she “failed to prevent the danger” to the public. Prosecutors have linked the outbreak to the Flint lead-contaminated water crisis, while defense attorneys have said many Legionnaires’ cases could be traced to the water at a Flint hospital.
“The facts are inescapable in this case,” said Special Prosecutor Todd Flood during a hearing in August, according to the Detroit News. “We have laid out probable cause that she knew about it, she had a duty … she failed to act or acted so grossly negligent in her ways that it was reasonably foreseeable that someone was going to get sick, that someone was going to get harmed.”
At that hearing, Wells’ lawyer, Jerold Lax, argued that Wells is the victim of politics and is being “selectively prosecuted” for crimes of “inferences” that have not been fully determined under law.
Wells could not be reached for comment. If Crawford rules to send Wells to face trial, it would mark the second case to be bound over in criminal court.
In August, state Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon was bound over for trial to face felony charges including involuntary manslaughter. District Judge David Goggins ruled that Lyon was “corrupt” in his handling of the Flint area Legionnaires’ disease outbreak.