Megan Schnipke sits with her lawyer, John Grzybowski, as Putnam County Prosecutor Gary Lammers outlines the specifics of a plea deal offered to the defense.
Megan Schnipke sits with her lawyer, John Grzybowski, as Putnam County Prosecutor Gary Lammers outlines the specifics of a plea deal offered to the defense.

OTTAWA — The third, and last, of three defendants facing charges related to the death of a Hilty Home resident last January appeared in Putnam County Common Pleas court on Thursday. Megan Schnipke, 32, Columbus Grove, was indicted in May on charges of forgery, a fifth-degree felony; gross patient neglect, a misdemeanor of the first degree; and patient neglect, a second-degree misdemeanor.

Scheduled as the third and final pretrial in the case, Putnam County Prosecutor Gary Lammers presented the defense with a plea deal. In exchange for a guilty plea on the charges of forgery and gross patient neglect, the State will drop the charge of patient neglect.

“The State has provided us with a plea offer,” Schnipke’s defense attorney, John Grzybowski, informed the court. “I am going to take the opportunity to discuss that further with Miss Schnipke, but at this particular time, we are ready to proceed with trial.”

Common Pleas Court Judge Keith Schierloh informed both counsels the court requires a decision on the plea deal by Friday, Oct. 12, so as to facilitate a change of plea hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

Schnipke was the licensed practical nurse on duty when Phyllis Campbell, a patient in Hilty Home’s memory care unit, wandered through a propped-open set of doors in the the early morning hours of Jan. 7, and out an exit door into the facility’s courtyard. There, the 76-year-old woman froze to death, according to Putnam County Coroner Anna Horstman, who pronounced Campbell dead some time after Hilty Home personnel discovered her body at 8:30 a.m.

Two other defendants, Destini Fenbert, 20, and Rachel Friesel, 37 — both of Pandora and both of whom served as nurses aids on the morning of Campbell’s death — entered guilty pleas to charges of forgery and gross patient neglect on Aug. 23. In exchange, the State dismissed charges of involuntary manslaughter and patient neglect.

Sentencing hearings for both Fenbert and Friesel are scheduled for Friday, Sept. 28.

A full jury trial in the Schnipke case is set to begin on Monday, Nov. 5, should the defense choose to reject the plea deal.