overdose death accidental - lawyer
SUDBURY, Ont. (CP): The death of a pregnant woman while under house arrest was not a suicide, a lawyer with the Sudbury Community Legal Clinic testified Friday at the coroner's inquest into Kimberly Rogers' death.
"It is my belief her death was an accident...an accidental overdose," Grace Kurke said.
Kurke became involved with Rogers in May 2001 when she was seeking legal assistance from the clinic about her loss of welfare benefits following her conviction for welfare fraud.
Rogers, 40, died in August 2001 in her apartment during a heat wave. She was eight months pregnant and serving a six-month conditional sentence for welfare fraud that included house arrest.
Rogers was permitted to leave her apartment to shop three hours per week and to attend medical appointments and religious services.
Rogers died from a lethal overdose of anti-depressants.
Due to her conviction, Rogers' social assistance was automatically cut off for a three-month period. The legislation has since been changed and those convicted face a lifetime ban.
In addition to helping Rogers launch a charter challenge against the welfare benefits suspension, Kurke helped her access community service agencies. and less than two months before her death, Kurke accompanied Rogers to a mall to price baby necessities.
"I booked a day off as vacation day so I could do that," Kurke told coroner's counsel Al O'Marra.
Rogers' handwritten list of items she required, such as a breast pump and nursing bra along with notes on toxoplasmosis (an infection that can be passed from cat feces to a fetus) were introduced.
"That signifies, to me, she was interested in the well-being of her child" said Kurke. "She was looking forward to the birth of her child...intending to nurse the baby after it was born."
Kurke testified the last time she saw Rogers was on July 20, 2001.
It was her 40th birthday," she said, crying. "I made arrangements to go visit her. I brought a card and some groceries."
The inquest is to continue Monday.