updated 10/17/2008 3:08:26 PM ET 2008-10-17T19:08:26

A judge dismissed a murder indictment Friday against a nurse accused of killing a terminally ill patient last year, citing a possible problem with a grand jury member.

Superior Court Judge Francis DeStefano agreed with Lorie Hentges' lawyer that an assistant prosecutor should have recorded a conversation with a grand juror who expressed concerns about a possible conflict.

Attorney Donald Lomurro said Hentges, 39, was relieved and maintains her innocence.

"Today was a good day for justice," he said. "It was a good day for a good person."

It was not clear whether the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office would bring the case to a new grand jury or just drop it. The office did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday.

The grand jury indicted Hentges in connection with the death of Alvin Flamenbaum at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune.

Flamenbaum, 72, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in March 2007, and at one point the following month he stopped breathing for a time and his condition was diagnosed as terminal.

On April 14, 2007, a nurse who was primarily responsible for Flamenbaum's care returned from a lunch break to find Hentges in his room, authorities said. Shortly afterward, his vital signs worsened and he died.

An autopsy listed the cause of death as the acute effects of an unprescribed paralytic drug. The case was classified as a homicide.

The defense said the drug Hentges was alleged to have given Flamenbaum was readily available throughout the hospital, and all she did was comfort the dying man while his regular nurse was at lunch.

Lomurro could not say what the juror's possible conflict was, noting grand jury secrecy rules. He said his client no longer works at Jersey Shore. He would not say if she is working as a nurse, but said her new job is medical-related.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments