December 22, 2005

Investigators Ask For More Clues In SDC Resident's Death

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express (subscribe)

ELDRIDGE, CA--Investigators with the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department are hoping that a witness will come forward and give any new information related to the death of a 25-year-old resident of Sonoma Developmental Center.

Timothy Lazzini was brought into Sonoma Valley Hospital for emergency treatment on October 22 because he was coughing up blood. He died the next day.

Before he died, Lazzini vomited up a plastic-handled "lemon glycerin" swab, the kind used to moisten a patient's lips. An autopsy later revealed that the bleeding in his throat was caused from lacerations in his throat, and that Lazzini had swallowed a total of three swabs.

According to the Sonoma Index-Tribune, deputies called the death suspicious because Lazzini was quadriplegic and could not eat or drink through his mouth but received food and water through a feeding tube installed directly into this stomach. Another person would have had to insert the swabs into Lazzini's mouth or throat, sheriff's officials said.

Sgt. Robert Giordano of the sheriff's violent crimes unit said investigators are trying to determine whether Lazzini's death was caused by gross negligence or homicide. Even though the unit has been questioning SDC staff for several weeks, no one has come forward with any information that would shed light on the case.

Sonoma Developmental Center is California's oldest state-run institution established specifically to house people with developmental disabilities. The facility opened in 1891 as the "California Home for the Care and Training of the Feeble Minded".

The facility, which housed around 800 people this time last year, has been under scrutiny in recent years because of a number of unexplained deaths and injuries, along with allegations of cover-ups by facility administrators and staff.

"Sonoma Developmental Center -- Investigations or Cover-ups?" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

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Posted on December 22, 2005