Bond reduction denied for two EMS workers charged with murder

More details emerge about the events surrounding Earl Moore Jr.’s death

Two Springfield emergency medical service workers remain jailed after their failed attempt Feb. 6 to get a judge to reduce their bonds for first-degree murder charges in the suffocation death of Earl Moore Jr.

Sangamon County Circuit Judge Robin Schmidt denied any reduction in the $1 million bonds for paramedic Peggy Finley and emergency medical technician Peter Cadigan despite statements from their attorneys that the charges were unjustified, the bond amounts were “oppressive,” they were unlikely to flee prosecution, and they didn’t pose a danger to the community.

“This is not a typical first-degree murder case,” said Justin Kuehn, a Belleville lawyer representing Cadigan. “It’s not the kind of physical ‘quote unquote’ violence that ordinarily supports a first-degree murder prosecution. This isn’t shooting somebody or stabbing somebody or even causing them to asphyxiate because you put your hands around their throat until they lose consciousness.”

But Schmidt agreed with State’s Attorney Dan Wright, who said neither Cadigan, 50, nor Finley, 45, deserved a reduction in bond – which currently would require each posting 10% or $100,000 to be released.

Schmidt said one of the factors she considered was the “inherent risk” that the defendants wouldn’t show up in court and flee if given the chance because of the potential 20- to 60-year prison terms they could face if convicted.

Cadigan and Finley were arrested and brought to the Sangamon County Jail after Wright filed the charges against them Jan. 9. They have pleaded not guilty.

In justifying the bond, Wright cited the seriousness of the charges, allegedly false statements Cadigan and Finley made to police afterward, and other circumstances in the nationally publicized incident captured on police body camera footage.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled March 20.

A forensic pathologist has ruled that Moore, 35, died Dec. 18 of compressional and positional asphyxia because of being placed face-down on the stretcher and transported to HSHS St. John’s Hospital with straps tightened across his back by Cadigan after police called LifeStar Ambulance Service to Moore’s house.

Wright has said Finley was just as responsible for Moore’s death because she was the supervising EMS worker at the scene.

Police were dispatched to Moore’s home in the 1100 block of North 11th Street at about 2 a.m. Dec. 18, after he called 911 and said there were people inside his home with firearms. That turned out not to be the case. Moore was detoxifying from alcohol and was hallucinating, authorities said, and so police requested an ambulance.

Cadigan and Finley arrived at Moore’s home at 2:18 a.m., brought Moore to St. John’s at 2:30 a.m., and Moore was pronounced dead by hospital staff members at 3:14 a.m.

A “patient restraint policy” set by Memorial Health, the organization that oversees medical care provided by for-profit LifeStar – one of three private ambulance services that operate in Springfield – says patients should never be transported in the prone position, or face down.

Moore, a Black man, was cared for by the two white emergency medical system workers in a case that has drawn international attention because of allegedly rude and dismissive treatment by Finley and Cadigan.

Wright said in court documents that Finley tried to influence a police officer’s recollection of the incident that led up to Moore’s death.

Wright said Finley called the Springfield police officer, Jacob Wayda, and suggested Wayda tell officials at HSHS St. John's that Moore was “responsive” at his home and was a “different patient” between the time he was picked up by ambulance to when he arrived at St. John’s.

Wright said in documents filed Jan. 31 that Finley told a St. John’s official in a recorded call that Moore was “slightly combative” and “confused” at his Springfield home when Finley and Cadigan arrived there.

Wright said body camera footage from police at the scene “removes any doubt that Moore’s behavior was the opposite of ‘combative’ and, to the contrary, showed a man in a weakened and confused state of mental distress, unable to walk, and in desperate need of specialized medical care that the defendants were trained to provide.”

Wright said at the Feb. 6 court hearing: “Mr. Cadigan clearly slams Mr. Moore’s face down in the stretcher, ties him down so tight that he couldn’t breathe and likely broke two ribs in the process.”

Kuehn said Cadigan “repositioned,” rather than slammed, Moore on the stretcher.

Once Finley and Cadigan brought Moore to St. John’s – a few minutes after he was strapped into a stretcher face-down about 2:25 a.m. – Moore was “unresponsive” and not breathing, Wright said.

Toxicology tests conducted after his death indicated his blood-alcohol level was 0.077%, or under Illinois’ 0.08% limit for driving while intoxicated.

Nationally known civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Moore’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit against Finley, Cadigan and LifeStar, has said the case may be the first nationwide in which EMS workers have been charged with murder in connection with their handling of a call for help.

Wright’s recent court filing asks that attorneys for Finley and Cadigan be barred from raising “incorrect and misleading statements of law” in the future after their statements at a Jan. 20 preliminary hearing in the case.

Wright said in court documents that Finley’s and Cadigan’s alleged “series of false statements” to hospital staff and Illinois State Police were evidence of “consciousness of guilt.”

When asked to respond to Wright’s motion, Springfield lawyer W. Scott Hanken, who is representing Finley, said, “I disagree with it completely.” Hanken said the legal arguments Wright presented “were about as big a stretch” as Wright’s stated legal basis for justifying the murder charges.

Wright’s allegations involving Moore’s death would be more appropriate for a civil lawsuit alleging medical malpractice and don’t justify criminal charges, Hanken said.

Circuit Judge Raylene Grischow ruled Jan. 20 there was probable cause to charge Finley and Cadigan with murder.

Hanken asked that Finley either be released on her own recognizance or that her bond be reduced to $100,000 so the family of the mother of four and grandmother of six could post 10%, or $10,000, and she could be released while her case proceeds in court.

Hanken noted that Memorial Health, in early January, reviewed the circumstances surrounding Moore’s death and ordered Finley to receive just a 90-day suspension of her EMS credentials, complete a test and undergo additional education.

“The very acts that are alleged herein as constituting a crime were deemed to be deserving of only a suspension with further remedial training by the very entity statutorily and specifically charged with monitoring and disciplining paramedics, EMTs and other participants in the Memorial EMS System,” Hanken said.

A Memorial Health spokesperson declined comment on the case.

After Moore’s death, Finley “falsely claimed to the Illinois State Police that she took Moore’s vitals during transport from the scene,” but hospital staff said no vitals were provided by Finley or Cadigan, according to Wright.

Wright said in court documents that Finley, in the recorded call to St. John’s, said she was not “messing with vitals” before Moore was transported because she “did not want to ‘poke the bear.’”

Wright said Finley and Cadigan told police that they told St. John’s officials on arrival at the St. John’s ER that Moore had a blood pressure close to normal. But Wright said two St. John’s nurses who assessed Moore refuted that claim because they found he had no pulse on arrival.

The defendants later told a colleague at LifeStar that it took St. John’s staff 20 minutes before they began to examine and treat Moore, Wright said. But records from St. John’s and statements from the staff indicated they began urgent lifesaving efforts about 10 minutes after Moore’s arrival, Wright said.

Finley’s attorney, W. Scott Hanken, said the timeline reflected in medical records doesn’t support Wright’s case. For example, Hanken said records indicated Moore vomited during efforts to insert a breathing tube down his windpipe 21 minutes after he arrived at St. John’s.

As a result, Hanken said, any claim that Moore was “essentially unresponsive and dead when he arrived is categorically untrue.”