Woman altered drug prescription, sister tells
Barbara Rogers said she was deeply concerned about her sister's dependence on prescription pills and saw her, on one occasion, use a pen to increase the number of pills her doctor had prescribed.
"Kim was doctoring prescriptions," Ms. Rogers, 42, said. "She said she needed more and they [doctors] wouldn't give her any more."
The 40-year-old woman had stockpiled more than 1,300 amitriptyline pills in the 10 weeks before she was found dead in her sweltering apartment on Aug. 9, 2001.
Her long-time physician, Robert Clendenning, told the jury Monday that she took a lethal dose of amitriptyline.
She had been ordered to undergo six months of house arrest in April of 2001 for continuing to collect $14,000 in welfare benefits while on student loans. She was eight months pregnant when she was found dead.
The inquest has heard that Ms. Rogers suffered from depression, severe migraine headaches, insomnia, panic attacks and physical pain after knee surgery.
Her sister described her as a rebellious teenager who left home at 16 for the bright lights of Toronto.
"Kim was always running away," she said.
Ms. Rogers said her sister was a very happy person most of the time, but started using and abusing prescription pills at a young age.
"I told her she shouldn't be doing that all the time," she said. "If it wasn't Tylenol, it was something else."
Although not a regular drinker, Kimberly drank to excess when she did, Ms. Rogers testified.
Kimberly never talked to the family about her involvement with welfare fraud, any conditions of house arrest or her court challenge to have her welfare benefits reinstated, Ms. Rogers said.
"She never discussed that with any of us. We only read about it in the paper," she said.
"She said she was very embarrassed about the whole situation and she didn't want to talk about it."
After becoming pregnant, Kimberly broke off most of her communication with family members, she said.
"She never returned calls or answered her door," Ms. Rogers said.
Kimberly did phone her sister a few days before she died and asked her to drop over for a cup of tea, but phoned back minutes later and told her she had changed her mind and wanted to lie down instead, Ms. Rogers testified.
They discussed Kimberly's pregnancy during that call, Ms. Rogers said, noting that her sister was very happy about becoming a mother.
Suggestions that Kimberly was without food or money to purchase the necessities of life during her pregnancy and house arrest are unwarranted, she said.
Ms. Rogers said she and her mother, as well as Kimberly's boyfriend Terry Pyhtila, each dropped off money or food on a regular basis through those difficult times.
"Kim got money and food all the time," she said.
Lyn Mayor, the eldest of the four Rogers sisters, testified she didn't have regular contact with Kimberly, but that she and her mother had visited Kimberly two or three weeks before she died and the younger woman was very happy they dropped in unannounced.
Earlier yesterday, Dr. Clendenning said he allowed his patient to stockpile pills because he was afraid her welfare and drug benefits could be cut off again and she would run out of money.
He had repeatedly warned her not to use more than the 300-milligram dosage he prescribed for her to take and she clearly understood that using more would be dangerous, he said.
Dr. Clendenning told the jury that amitriptyline was like a miracle drug for her as it appeared to be controlling both her depression and her regular migraines.
It was when he found
out she was under house arrest and her welfare benefits and drug card
had been cut off, that he wrote prescriptions to ensure she would have
an adequate supply, he said.