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Hjelseth Pleads Guilty in Trade Lake Camp Death

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 at 10:45 am

Marjorie Hjelseth

The former Director of the Trade Lake Camp in Grantsburg pleaded guilty Friday for her role in the July 17th death of mentally disabled camper Shirley Meade, 49.

Marjorie “Peggy” Hjelseth, 68,  pleaded guilty to an amended count of Negligently Subject an Individual at Risk to Abuse – Likely to Cause Great Bodily Harm.

Sentencing is scheduled for January 20th at 3:15 p.m.  The Burnett County Attorney’s Office tells Red Rock Radio the max sentence is 3.5 years in prison.

A pre-sentence investigation was ordered on Friday.

Background

According to the criminal complaint, a camp employee told investigators that Hjelseth admitted to giving Meade the wrong dosage of medication.   The complaint said Hjelseth gave Meade Clozapine, which was intended for another camper.

The employee told investigators Hjelseth realized the mistake within 30 minutes but did not seek medical advice because she feared the camp would lose its license and shut down.

Police say that Meade suffered additional injuries when she tried to stand up, but fell during what is described as a drug induced sleep caused by the medication. She hit her head and suffered blunt force injuries.

The camp employee told police that Hjelseth believed Meade could sleep off the medications, and when she died, told the employee not to mention the mistake with the medication.

Medical Examiner, Mike Maloney, confirmed through an autopsy that the cause of Meade’s death was a wrongful dose of 125 mg of Clozapine.

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