Former nurse pleads not guilty to manslaughter in Bi-State death

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A former nurse accused of manslaughter in the death of a diabetic inmate last year entered a not guilty plea Tuesday at a hearing in Miller County, Ark., circuit court.

Brittany Danae Johnson, 27, appeared with Texarkana lawyer Jeff Harrelson before Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson for the first time since Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Black amended the charges against her from misdemeanor negligent homicide to felony manslaughter. The former licensed vocational nurse now faces three to years in prison and a fine up to $10,000 rather than time in the county jail.

Brittany Johnson is accused of causing the July 1, 2016, death of Morgan Angerbauer, a severely diabetic 20-year-old who was jailed for administrative violations of her probation in Miller County. According to a probable cause affidavit and a civil lawsuit, Brittany Johnson ignored Angerbauer’s pleas for medical treatment beginning the afternoon of June 30, 2016.

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Angerbauer asked Brittany Johnson to check her blood sugar around 5 p.m. June 30, 2016, but Brittany Johnson allegedly refused, telling the young diabetic that, “things don’t work that way,” meaning Brittany Johnson would decide when and if the insulin-dependent detainee would receive treatment. Brittany Johnson allegedly told a Texarkana, Ark., Police Dept. investigator that she would never get anything done if she treated inmates like Angerbauer when they requested it. Angerbauer allegedly banged for hours on the door of the medical observation cell where she was housed, just 20 feet from the nurse’s station.

Earlier blood sugar readings recorded in the jail beginning on the day of Angerbauer’s arrest June 28, 2016, showed consistently high levels. Angerbauer was discovered collapsed on the floor of her cell by an inmate with trusty status at about 4 a.m. July 1, 2016. After being unable to obtain a numerical reading on the jail’s glucose monitor, Johnson allegedly shoved glucose into Angerbauer’s mouth, raising her sugar level even higher. An autopsy report states that Angerbauer’s blood sugar level was 813 at the time of her death.

Angerbauer’s parents have filed a civil suit in federal court against Brittany Johnson, her supervisor and LaSalle Corrections, the company that manages the Bi-State jail.

Judge Kirk Johnson scheduled Brittany Johnson’s case for jury selection Nov. 27 at the Miller County courthouse.

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