CONCORD, N.H. — A federal judge in New Hampshire dismissed a request to vacate the 39-year prison sentence for a traveling medical technician convicted of infecting patients with hepatitis C, agreeing with prosecutors that he waited too long to ask.
David Kwiatkowski, 40, was sentenced in 2013 for stealing syringes filled with painkillers and replacing them with saline-filled ones tainted with his blood. Acting as his own attorney, he filed a motion from a Florida prison in January asking to be released. He said his former lawyer was ineffective. The U.S. attorney’s office responded in March that such claims must be made within a year of conviction.
Kwiatkowski was given time to file a response, but none was on the record. Judge Joseph Laplante issued his dismissal Wednesday. Kwiatkowski is scheduled to be released in 2046.
“The defendant has not objected to the motion, despite extensions and prompts from the court,” Laplante wrote.
Despite being fired numerous times over drug allegations, Kwiatkowski had worked in 18 hospitals in seven states before being hired by Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire in 2011. He was arrested the following year. After that, 46 people in four states were diagnosed with the same strain of the hepatitis C virus he carries, including a woman who died in Kansas.
During his sentencing, Kwiatkowski apologized to his victims, saying his crime was caused by an addiction to painkillers and alcohol. He wrote in January that his lawyer allowed him to plead guilty under extreme emotional distress and that his sentence was calculated incorrectly. He also said the sentence should have been much lower and that his mental state “should have been in question” for agreeing to the deal.
Back in 2013, his lawyers argued that a 30-year sentence would better balance the seriousness of the crimes against his mental and emotional problems and his addiction to drugs and alcohol, which they said clouded his judgment.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that attacks the liver. For most people, it turns into a chronic disease. In all, 32 patients were infected in New Hampshire, seven in Maryland, six in Kansas and one in Pennsylvania. Kwiatkowski also worked in Michigan, New York, Arizona and Georgia.