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Testimony wraps in trial of former professional guardian accused of elderly abuse

Rebecca Fierle say 3 trial WFTS WALSER.png
Posted at 5:24 PM, Sep 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-15 17:29:48-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — On Thursday, the trial continued in the case of former professional guardian Rebecca Fierle, who was accused of contributing to the death of a man under her care.

Testimony wrapped up and both sides rested after the jury heard from more than a dozen total witnesses. Fierle did not take the stand in her own defense.

RELATED: Trial scheduled to begin for former professional guardian accused in man's death

She is charged with felony, aggravated abuse of an elderly person, and neglect of an elderly person. Fierle was appointed by a judge to be Steven Stryker‘s guardian in 2018 after Stryker was baker acted and ended up in an Orlando hospital.

Investigators said Fierle allegedly ordered his feeding tube to be capped and requested a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order against his wishes while he was a patient at Saint Joseph’s hospital in May 2019. The record showed that he choked to death five days later.

Several experts testified for the defense on Thursday about Stryker's medical, psychological and behavioral problems that led to the guardianship and made it difficult for Fierle to find a place for him to live.

Stryker was a convicted sex offender who pleaded guilty to charges that he exposed himself in 2000 while intoxicated. That meant nursing homes wouldn’t take him and assisted living facilities couldn't care for him.

Several experts also testified about Stryker's poor health prognosis at the time of his death.

"He was a sick man and it was just a question of time for this guy to have expired naturally," said Dr. Philip Atigre who treated Stryker.

After being asked whether having or not having a feeding tube would have a good outcome for Stryker, Dr. Arigre said, "next to none."

The jury will return Friday at 8:30 a.m. to hear their instructions and opening statements, then begin their deliberations.