A woman who was working at a northwest Iowa nursing home has lost the latest appeal of her murder conviction for killing one of the home’s residents. Back in August of 2003, Christie Van Oort pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for causing the death of 87-year-old Dick Post, a resident of the Rock Valley nursing home where she worked.
Van Oort, who is a Canadian, told an immigration agent she became angry while she was feeding the man and shoved food down his throat until he could no longer breathe or swallow. The elderly man’s body was exhumed, and an autopsy concluded he had been asphyxiated by food. Van Oort argues her attorneys shouldn’t have let her plead guilty because she was taking medications at the time that "impaired" her mental state.
But the Iowa Court of Appeals has ruled the only issue left to decide is whether the trial court should have allowed Van Oort to be sentenced immediately. The judges on the Court of Appeals note that the victim’s relatives had protested outside the courthouse, arguing her sentence was too light, and her lawyers were worried she might face other charges if she waited to be sentenced, and talked about other crimes in jail during the wait.
The Court of Appeals ruled Van Oort’s attorneys acted appropriately and upheld Van Oort’s conviction as well as the 57-year prison sentence she received.