Caring for convicted murderer costs Routt County $267,234
December 9, 2014
Steamboat Springs — Taking care of the paralyzed Routt County woman who killed her 9-year-old son came with a hefty price tag.
Routt County taxpayers are on the hook for $267,234 in costs related to caring for Lisa Lesyshen, 47.
According to county records, the total bill to take care of Lesyshen for more than a year was $372,081, but the county's catastrophic insurance policy reimbursed $104,847.
After pleading guilty to second-degree murder in August, Lesyshen was transferred to the Denver Womens Correctional Facility, and the financial burden now is on state taxpayers. She is serving a 40-year sentence.
After Lesyshen shot her son, Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan, during the early morning hours of May 29, 2013, Lesyshen shot herself in the neck area. She was flown to Denver Health Medical Center and underwent medical procedures while being guarded by Routt County Sheriff's Office deputies. Two days after the shooting, Lesyshen officially was arrested, and her expenses then were the county's responsibility.
"By statute, we are not responsible until we take her into custody," Routt County Undersheriff Ray Birch said Tuesday.
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This meant the county did not have to pay for Lesyshen's air ambulance flight to Denver and the initial surgery.
The Sheriff's Office first used their own deputies to constantly guard Lesyshen at Denver Health. This meant the county was paying for deputy salaries, hotel rooms and food. It cost between an estimated $800 and $1,000 per day.
After doing a cost-benefit analysis, the county contracted with a security company to guard Lesyshen at a cost of about $580 per day.
In total, the county spent $66,461 guarding Lesyshen while she was at Denver Health. Medical costs were $108,847.
The Routt County Jail was not equipped to care for Lesyshen, who was paralyzed and needed constant access to medical attention and rehabilitation services. Between treatments at Denver Health, arrangements were made to have Lesyshen held at the Denver County Jail infirmary at a cost of $586 per day. That total expense ended up being $193,380.
"We really didn't have any other options," Birch said.
Other expenses related to Lesyshen's care were $3,393.
Some costs are harder to account for. Lesyshen's court hearings were held at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver, but they were overseen by members of the judicial system in Routt County, which meant law enforcement officials, attorneys and court personnel had to travel to the hearings.
Birch said that weeks before Lesyshen's planned trial in Routt County, doctors finally cleared Lesyshen to be moved to the Routt County Jail.
"We discussed it, and we prepared for it," said Laurie Voit-Perry, a nurse practitioner who works for the Routt County Jail.
Alterations were done at the jail to accommodate Lesyshen, including the installation of a sink and safety bars. Ultimately, Lesyshen accepted the plea deal before being transferred to Routt County for a trial.
Routt County Jail Lt. Michelle Richardson said they went to great efforts to be fiscally responsible with Lesyshen's costs, and they monitored the bills closely.
"We questioned everything," Richardson said.
They also looked for savings.
For example, once the Affordable Care Act went into law, the Sheriff's Office worked with Lesyshen's attorney to get her signed up for the health insurance. Voit-Perry said that unlike private health insurance, the Affordable Care Act provides coverage for people who are incarcerated, and it did save the county money.
Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan said the Lesyshen expenses would require the Routt County Board of Commissioners to approve an emergency supplemental budget by the end of this year.
"I wish we didn't have to pay for them," Commissioner Tim Corrigan said Tuesday. "It is what it is."
Sullivan said the Lesyshen expenses would come out of the county's cash reserves.
"Our reserves are still healthy," Sullivan said.
Corrigan said that during the Lesyshen case, the Sheriff's Office regularly would update the commissioners about the case and expenses.
"They absolutely kept us in the loop," Corrigan said. "We were getting updates on a very regular basis about what our obligations were going to be."