SAN ANTONIO – An imprisoned former nurse who prosecutors believe could be responsible for the deaths of up to 60 Texas children is set to be arraigned on murder charges in the deaths of five children in the early 1980s.
Genene Jones, who is 67, will be arraigned Thursday in San Antonio. The Bexar County district attorney's office has announced the five indictments over the last year.
Jones is serving concurrent 99-year and 60-year sentences in state prison for the killing of a 15-month-old and the sickening of 4-week-old. She was scheduled to be freed from prison in March under a mandatory release law in place when she was convicted.
Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood said Wednesday he'll try each new case separately. Jones faces up to life in prison on each charge.
"This is an enormous step in the right direction to secure justice for these slain children, their families and our community as a whole," said LaHood, who said the investigation continues into other cases.
During Jones' time working at a San Antonio hospital and a clinic in Kerrville, northwest of San Antonio, children died of unexplained seizures and other complications. LaHood said they'll first try the case of 11-month-old Joshua Sawyer, who investigators say died in 1981 of a fatal overdose of an anti-seizure drug.
LaHood said Jones was indicted in the cases this year for murder instead of capital murder — which could include the death penalty — because they were "grandfathered into the law at the time."
LaHood said prosecutors are open to the possibility of a plea bargain but would not comment on what terms would need to be met in order for prosecutors to agree to that.
"Our goal, my goal is that she takes her last breath from behind bars and she meets the Lord from behind bars," LaHood said.
Jones' attorney did not immediately return a call Wednesday for comment.
Prosecutors at Jones' 1984 murder trial said the nurse lethally injected children at the Kerrville clinic to demonstrate the need for a pediatric intensive care unit at a nearby hospital. Other prosecutors theorized that her tactic was to take swift medical action and save some of her victims so she could appear to be a sort of miracle worker.
LaHood said Wednesday that current prosecutors "don't really know" her motivation. "To me, evil is evil is evil," he said, "All I know is these children were stolen from family."