Michael L. Guisti has accepted yet another case that is making headlines across two states. His client, Kristie Jane Koepplin of Peoria, Arizona, is a registered nurse who is being blamed for the death of a San Clemente man.
The Orange County District Attorney’s office claims that Ms. Koepplin injected a lethal dose of drugs into her friend, Matthew Peter Sokalski, who was reportedly devastated over a breakup and wanted to commit suicide. He allegedly asked her to help him die. He was found in a hotel room in Mission Viejo on April 6, 2018.
Kristie Koepplin had lived and worked as a surgical nurse in California for most of her life. She recently moved into a brand-new home in Peoria along with her husband, where she was arrested on October 15, 2019, more than a year after the alleged crime. Video footage shows Ms. Koepplin asking, “What does that mean, fugitive?”
She is told, “The charge occurred in California and you came to Arizona.”
“But I didn’t know I had a warrant,” Ms. Koepplin responds.
The Orange County D.A. believes Ms. Koepplin gave Mr. Sokalski a lethal injection before she left California. She is being charged with first-degree murder.
Mr. Guisti fired back to the press: “We don’t believe that statement is even close to accurate – that’s a conclusion they’ve come to after some very broad-stroke evidence was found. It isn’t sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that my client had anything to do with his death.”
Mr. Sokalski’s cause of death was lethal intoxication, and one of the drugs found in his system was pentobarbital, which is used during assisted suicide and judicial executions.
“The D.A.’s being overzealous, and I can’t comment on specific details.” Mr. Guisti told Fox 10 Phoenix.
Ms. Koepplin was arrested in Maricopa County, Arizona. The 58-year-old registered nurse pleaded “not guilty” on October 28, 2019, to a charge of murder. She posted the $1 million bail bond and was released from custody. Her pretrial hearing is set for January 7, 2020, at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach.
Michael Guisti is not shy about his client’s defense: “Their case rests ultimately on inferences made by what they found in the room. They have no substantial evidence linking my client to the victim’s death. We’re fighting vigorously because my client is innocent.”
NBC 12 News reports that Ms. Koepplin faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted. Assisted suicide is legal in California, but the patient must be terminally ill and of a sound mind to make medical decisions before he or she has a “right to die.”