Mikel McBride victim of justice system breakdown
Idaho State Journal Editorial
The murder charge against Blackfoot resident Mikel McBride has been dismissed. She will have a tougher time overcoming the taint of an unfair prosecution.
This has been a tawdry affair, made so by Bingham County Prosecutor Scott Andrew’s poor decisions, not McBride’s conduct.
McBride, a registered nurse, was caring for her 93-year-old grandmother, Opal Ward, at the time of her death. Ward’s kidneys were failing and she died on March 27. Bingham County Sheriff Dave Johnson said his office received information that led to an exhumation and toxicology testing of Ward’s body. Morphine was found in Ward’s system and the sheriff’s office concluded that criminal conduct had occurred.
Nearly six months later, McBride, an instructor in the nursing program at Idaho State University, was arrested in front of students as she taught class and was led out in handcuffs. Clearly, that was unnecessary.
The decision by Prosecutor Andrew to file charges was a serious mistake that will surely make some question his judgment. Here’s Andrew’s statement after dismissing the charges last week:
“Based on information that has come to light since the case has been filed, I felt it would be appropriate to get some additional information and some additional input before going forward.”
This is cold comfort to McBride, whose reputation has been tarnished, who had to undergo incarceration and whose employment was placed on leave with ISU.
Andrew has said he’s still reviewing information and pondering whether to impanel a grand jury. This is too little, too late; the damage has been done. Given the sensitive nature of this case, any decision to bring the case to a grand jury should have been made a long time ago.
Two cases in Pocatello illustrate how the system is supposed to work.
The Bannock County Prosecutor’s Office recently declined to file charges in two high-profile cases, the Jack in the Box restaurant robbery and a lewd conduct charge against a local man. In both instances, the prosecutor’s office looked at the facts and determined more investigation was needed. If criminal investigators can produce more facts, the county prosecutor will file charges. This is how it should be.
Andrew, on the other hand, abrogated his duty to dispassionately review the evidence and determine if it was wanting.
The facts in the McBride case indicate that she was a loyal caregiver, trying to ease a relative’s last days. A medical professional, she was authorized by Ward’s physician to administer morphine to ease the old woman’s pain.
This prosecution looked suspect from the outset, and time has borne that suspicion out.
McBride — and the citizens of Bingham County — deserved better.