State: Tech in hep C cases took too long on request

Holly Ramer
Associated Press
David Kwiatkowski

Concord, N.H. – A traveling medical technician convicted of infecting patients with hepatitis C waited too long to ask a judge to vacate his sentence, New Hampshire prosecutors said Friday.

David Kwiatkowski was sentenced in 2013 to 39 years in prison for stealing painkillers and replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his blood. In January, he acted as his own attorney and asked to be released, saying his former lawyer was ineffective.

In a response filed Friday, U.S. Attorney Scott Murphy said that such claims must be made within a year of conviction. While there are some exceptions to the requirement, none apply in this case, he wrote.

Despite being fired numerous times over drug allegations, Kwiatkowski had worked in 18 hospitals in seven states before being hired by Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire in 2011. After his arrest the following year, 46 people in four states were diagnosed with the same strain of the hepatitis C virus he carries, including a woman who died in Kansas.

At his sentencing hearing, Kwiatkowski apologized to his victims, saying his crime was caused by an addiction to painkillers and alcohol. In the motion he filed himself from prison in Florida, he argued that his lawyer allowed him to plead guilty under extreme emotional distress and that his sentence was calculated incorrectly. He also said the sentence should have been much lower and that his mental state “should have been in question” for agreeing to the deal.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that attacks the liver. In all, 32 patients were infected in New Hampshire, seven in Maryland, six in Kansas and one in Pennsylvania. Kwiatkowski also worked in Michigan, New York, Arizona and Georgia.