Testimony in Wells’ manslaughter hearing delayed

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Flint — The involuntary manslaughter case against Michigan Chief Medical Officer Eden Wells was delayed Monday because of the death of a family member on the prosecution’s team, and because prosecutors want previous text messages from a witness on the stand.

Special Prosecutor Todd Flood asked 67th District Court Judge William Crawford for a recess until Wednesday, which the judge granted. The judge did so after Wells’ attorney Steve Tramontin protested because he said Wells is expected to be in court while still working and dealing with a Hepatitis A outbreak in Michigan.

Flood said it was important to have the text messages dating to 2015 from Jay Fiedler, an epidemiologist supervisor with the state Department of Health and Human Services “as it relates to what Mr. Fiedler says on the stand.” Flood questioned Fiedler on Nov. 7 in the Wells case and plans to pursue more direct testimony before the defense cross-examination begins.

“We don’t have those texts and we want them,” Flood said to the judge. “I don’t think that takes long. We should be able to do the download in a very short period of time. I don’t think anyone would want to head back on the stand without having that, and that’s what came from his testimony on the stand.”

Flood said a cybercrime specialist, who works for the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and helps out the special prosecutor when needed, was on his way to Flint to access the iCloud storage on Fiedler’s phone.

Tramontin said while he sympathizes with the death of an important family member of Flood’s team, the hearing has already taken up time from the schedule of Wells.

“The fact that Mr. Flood has elicited some testimony from the witness at the last hearing which was a couple of weeks ago, we’ve had several weeks for him to investigate this testimony,” Tramontin said. “And this just looks like another created issue that the prosecution has continuously engaged in throughout this process.”

Wells has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office regarding the lack of public warnings about a 2014-15 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in the Flint area that killed 12 and sickened 79 others. The prosecutor argues the switch to Flint River water contaminated the water and helped prompt the outbreak of the form of pneumonia.


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