Arrest made after woman in vegetative state for 14 years gives birth in healthcare facility

PHOENIX – Police have arrested a 36-year-old man in connection with an incapacitated woman giving birth at an Arizona healthcare facility in December.

Officials at a healthcare facility were stunned after the woman, who was in a vegetative state for 14 years gave birth, leading investigators to believe she was raped.

The unidentified woman gave birth to a baby boy at Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix on Dec. 29.

Phoenix police say Nathan Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse, has been arrested and charged with one count of sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse. Police say DNA testing of Sutherland and the baby led to the arrest.

Sutherland made an initial court appearance Wednesday, hours after his arrest was announced by Phoenix police. He did not enter a plea.

A Maricopa County Superior Court commissioner ordered him released on a cash-only $500,000 bond. Sutherland must also wear an electronic monitoring device.

Clad in a T-shirt, athletic pants and jacket, the 36-year-old Sutherland was accompanied by defense attorney David Gregan, who said his client has no prior criminal record.

Gregan also said Sutherland has the right to get his own DNA expert.

Two doctors responsible for the care of the woman are no longer with Hacienda.

Hacienda HealthCare said in a statement Wednesday that Sutherland was terminated after police announced his arrest.

Hacienda says its officials are "troubled beyond words" that someone 

Police say the baby boy is "doing quite well."

According to the facility, the woman has been in the same vegetative state since a near-drowning incident over a decade ago.

None of the staff members were aware the woman was pregnant until she started moaning and then went into labor.

As the woman's condition required around the clock care, the source added many people would have had access to the patient's room.

A former neighbor of Sutherland says he was a quiet family man.

Esella Burr said Wednesday that Sutherland was her neighbor for more than five years until he sold his Phoenix-area home in October.

Burr says Sutherland shared the home with his wife and four children, and she saw the couple leave for church every Sunday.

She says Sutherland would sometimes wave or start a conversation with her and once gave her a ride. He also mentioned that he liked his job as a nurse.