The Law Blog of Oklahoma

HIV Patient Arrested after Biting Medical Technician

Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Tulsa man with a record of assaults was arrested again Friday night after he bit a medical technician. Instead of just being arrested for simple assault, however, Derin Lee Bunch, 40, is jailed on complaints of aggravated assault and battery on a health care worker and knowingly transmitting HIV.

According to reports, Bunch was a patient at St. John Medical Center when a medical technician attempted to prevent him from pulling off a heart monitor. As she leaned over Bunch, who is HIV-positive and has Hepatitis C, he bit her arm sharply enough to draw blood. Hospital security restrained Bunch until police could arrive, and he was arrested and transported to the Tulsa County Jail. When he was told that he could have given the medical technician AIDS, Bunch allegedly responded, "I don't give a [expletive]."

He should. Even if he has no concern for the woman who was trying to help him, assault and battery upon an emergency medical care provider is a felony punishable by two years in prison. Knowingly intending to transfer Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a felony punishable by a maximum of five years in prison. Given his record of violent crimes, it seems unlikely that a judge would feel lenient in sentencing.

In 2002, Bunch was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, resisting arrest, and public intoxication. Those charges were dismissed when a prosecution witness failed to appear in court.

In 2005, he was convicted of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and sentenced to five ears, with two years served and three years suspended.

In 2010, Bunch was charged with domestic assault and battery, but that charge was also dismissed.

In 2013, he was convicted of two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and one count of injuring or burning a public building. He was sentenced to one year for the vandalism count and 10 years for each of the assault charges. The sentences were ordered to run concurrently with credit for time served. The assault charges came after Bunch was involved in a five-hour standoff with police, threatening his family and law enforcement with a hatchet.

Oklahoma law strives to protect medical workers by enhancing penalties for assault and battery against health care workers. The statute, found in 21 O.S. 650.4 reads as follows:

A. Every person who, without justifiable or excusable cause and with intent to do bodily harm, commits any assault, battery or assault and battery upon the person of an emergency medical care provider who is performing medical care duties, upon conviction, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for a term not exceeding two (2) years, or by a fine not exceeding One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.

B. As used in this section, "emergency medical care provider" means doctors, residents, interns, nurses, nurses’ aides, ambulance attendants and operators, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and members of a hospital security force.

In order to protect public health and safety, it is also a felony to knowingly spread infectious diseases (21 O.S. 1192), including the sexually transmitted diseases syphilis and gonorrhea, or to knowingly transmit the AIDS virus (21 O.S. 1192.1).

Image Credit: NIAID

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