SALT LAKE CITY — For the fifth time since 2017, the federal jury trial regarding a former nurse accused of spreading hepatitis C to a number of patients has been continued to a later date.
Elet Neilson, 52, once again had her trial continued in Salt Lake City’s U.S. District Court, where she faces 16 felony counts of tampering with a consumer product and fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance.
In a motion submitted to the court on Wednesday, Neilson’s attorneys argued they had recently met with experts from the Center for Disease Control and are waiting for the organization to share their findings regarding “genetic sequencing data” with the defense.
Judge Dee Benson approved the motion Thursday morning, continuing the trial until May 6.
This marks the fifth time Neilson’s trial dates have been pushed back. The most recent continuance aside from Thursday’s was approved in Sept. 2018 after defense counsel that one of Neilson’s attorneys had stepped away from the case, and they needed additional time to bring a new lawyer up to speed.
Neilson is accused of spreading hepatitis C in McKay-Dee and Davis hospitals in 2015, causing the facilities to notify 7,200 former patients of possible exposure to the disease. More than 3,700 people came forward for blood tests, and the Utah Department of Health said 16 positive cases of hepatitis C 2b were identified.
Neilson was federally indicted in July 2017. She pleaded not guilty to all charges on Aug. 16, 2017, at the federal courthouse.
Recently, Neilson faced additional charges on the state level.
On Nov. 7, she was cited for allegedly driving drunk after Layton Police received a complaint saying a driver of a black Hyundai Elantra was unaware they were driving on a flat tire. Officers saw the vehicle going west on Layton Parkway taking up both westbound lanes of traffic and riding the dotted white line, according to charging documents.
Police pulled over the vehicle and made contact with the driver, who police believe to be Neilson. The officer found the driver had “bloodshot glossy eyes” and “sluggish movements,” charging documents say. The officer also observed a smell of alcohol coming from the driver’s breath and took a breath test that indicated the presence of alcohol.
Officers conducted a field sobriety test, to which Neilson allegedly showed “extreme impairment,” according to the affidavit. A blood draw was taken after Neilson was arrested.
The arrest landed her back in the Salt Lake City federal court, after a judge deemed her arrest to be in violation of her pretrial release conditions.
The judge allowed her to remain out of jail custody, but mandated that she refrain from using alcohol, along with ordering that she not contact her step-daughter. Documents did not supply context as to why Neilson was ordered not to be in contact with her step-daughter. The judge also ordered that Neilson be tested for alcohol twice a day using a sobrietor, a remote alcohol testing mechanism. She must also pay for the court-ordered service, according to court documents.
Neilson is also facing two civil lawsuits filed in state courts. Both suits allege that the Davis Hospital negligently failed to prevent nurse her from tampering with patient medication, reusing syringes and exposing patients to disease.
Neilson’s next court appearance is scheduled to take place Jan. 8 in Layton’s 2nd District Court regarding her misdemeanor DUI charge filed by the state.