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Dead woman’s estate sues Rock Hill nursing home

ROCK HILL (AP) — The estate of an 82-year-old woman killed at a Rock Hill assisted living home last year is suing the home and two employees.

The Herald of Rock Hill reports ( Thursday that the lawsuit says the crime could have been prevented.

Pauline Cook was found dead in her shower in November at OakBridge Terrace. Her death came the day after she reported to staff and police that someone had been forging her checks.

Braquette Walton was arrested and charged with Cook’s death. Police said the nurse’s aide later confessed to killing Cook and trying to cover up the crime. Walton faces several charges including murder and burglary, and she is being held without bail in the York County jail.

Prosecutor Kevin Brackett said at Walton’s bond hearing in December that Walton used her work badge to enter the building, hid from security cameras and employees in an unused room and called a nursing station at least seven times in an attempt to get into Cook’s room unnoticed. She’s accused of smothering Cook and then dragging her to the shower and leaving the water running in an effort to make it look like Cook accidentally fell.

The lawsuit accuses ACTS Retirement-Life Communities of wrongful death, negligence and misconduct. The suit also says the home’s resident nursing director and a cook knew about Walton’s alleged thefts and could have stopped her from killing Cook.

Columbia attorney Dick Harpootlian, who is representing Cook’s estate, said the case will show how people assume their loved ones will be safe at such a facility.

“We do assume, and we should be able to rely on that assumption that they won’t be murdered by an employee,” Harpootlian said.

An official with the nursing home says the company and its employees have been cooperating with police and denied the suit’s allegations.

“Allegations are just that,” Jim Petty said. “This was a horrible tragedy that was the result of an individual.”

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