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No deal on N.H. hepatitis C trial date

CONCORD, N.H. — Prosecutors and defense lawyers ­remain at odds over a trial date for a former Exeter Hospital technician accused of stealing drugs and infecting patients with hepatitis C, making it likely that a judge will hold a hearing to settle the matter.

David Kwiatkowski, who has been in jail since his arrest in July, is scheduled to go on trial Oct. 1, but his lawyers asked last week that the trial be ­delayed at least six months, given the complexity of the case. After prosecutors said they would agree to a three-month delay at most, a judge told both sides to discuss the matter and get back to him by Monday.

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Jonathan Saxe, a federal public defender, said Friday that he suggested a March date but the prosecution declined, setting the stage for a hearing. US Attorney John Kacavas said anything more than a three-month delay is unnecessary.

In his earlier written ­response, Kacavas dismissed defense arguments that his ­office has unlimited resources to devote to the case. He also emphasized that just as ­Kwiatkowski is owed adequate time to prepare for trial, the victims have a right to see the case settled in a timely fashion.

In his request, Saxe pointed out that his office has only two attorneys and one investigator to sift through more than 10,000 files associated with the case. The defense lawyers also argued that under the automatic budget cuts that began taking effect in March, each employee in the office is required to take 16 furlough days before October, which amounts to nearly 400 lost hours.

Kwiatkowski, who pleaded not guilty to 14 drug charges in December, is accused of stealing painkiller syringes from ­Exeter Hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab and replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his own blood.

Thirty-two people in New Hampshire and a dozen people in other states have been diagnosed with the same strain
of hepatitis C carried by ­Kwiatkowski, who worked at 18 hospitals in seven states before being hired in Exeter in April 2011. For years, he moved from job to job, despite having been fired twice over allegations of drug use and theft.

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