Nurse accused in plastic surgery death happy charges dropped

Nurse accused in plastic surgery death happy charges dropped


by BETH SHAYNE / NewsChannel 36

Posted on May 5, 2011 at 3:34 PM

Updated Friday, May 6 at 8:17 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Sally Hill, who is now Sally Jordan, was cooking dinner Thursday evening in her Union County home, fielding phone calls about the good news.

Earlier in the day, the nurse anesthetist had learned Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray would be dismissing a murder charge against her.

"When they called me, I just busted out crying," she said Thursday night.

Hill was charged in 2006 with first-degree murder in the April 2001 death of Sandra Joyner. Joyner had been a patient in Dr. Peter Tucker's plastic surgery office where Hill worked. Joyner, a healthy mother, suffered respiratory arrest after a series of fairly routine procedures, and died.

"Although I have great concerns with the actions of Ms. Sally Hill and what she did on this tragic day, there are other possible reasons that Ms. Joyner had a respiratory arrest on this occasion," Murray said. "Therefore, it is my decision that to do justice in this case, the state must take a dismissal."

Prosecutors had alleged that Hill held a grudge against Joyner from the days when the two attended Olympic High School. Joyner was one year older than Hill, and had dated a boy Hill had previously dated.

Hill was accused of applying a fatal dose of fentanyl, a powerful painkiller, without authorization from Dr. Tucker. There were questions about her monitoring of the patient as well.

Even without charges against her, Hill declined to talk about what happened inside the room. "I know what happened, God knows what happened. I just don't think I should say anything or comment about it." 

She said she believes the truth will come out someday. The alleged motive, she called preposterous.

"I don't recall having any trouble getting boyfriends back then," she laughed. "She was a year ahead of me, and I admired her."

Hill has always maintained her innocence, and said she always believed things would turn out okay. In December 2008, she refused to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter, which would have allowed her to avoid jail time, and instead she chose to fight the first-degree murder charge.

She is surprisingly positive about all that's happened in her life in that time.

"Knowing that justice has finally been done is the happiest thing, but my life was great and it continues to be great," she said. "Life is changed, but it's so good, becaue I have faith in God, and I knew the truth was going to come out, and it's only going to continue to get better."

Both Tucker and Hill were sanctioned by their respective medical boards over the incident. Tucker later retired.

Hill had her license stripped and has never applied for reinstatement.  Thursday, she said she is grateful to the people in the medical community who stood by her.

Murray said he personally notified Joyner's family about his decision. NewsChannel 36 reached out to her husband, who she was separated from at the time of her death, but was unable to reach him personally.