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In 1985, Texas nurse Genene Jones was sentenced to 99 years in prison for murdering a child with a lethal dose of an anesthetic. Jones was suspected of killing other children in the same way, which earned her the name ‘the angel of death.’ Jones is scheduled to be released from prison next year, due to a change in Texas law. To prevent that, Bexar County prosecutors recently announced they would bring forward a decades-old case involving the death of another child.
Peter Elkind wrote about the new developments for Texas Monthly, in partnership with ProPublica. He says Jones was suspected of being responsible for the deaths of other children under her care, but was not tried for those crimes.
“She was suspected of harming kids under her care in the pediatric intensive care unity of the county hospital in San Antonio.” Elkind says.
After an investigation, Jones was cleared and given a good employment recommendation. She was subsequently convicted of murder in the death of Chelsea Ann McClellan, in a pediatric clinic where Jones worked.
Elkind says Jones could leave prison next year because of a law that was passed in order to alleviate prison overcrowding. It created a mandatory release date for Jones, meaning she is currently set to leave prison on March 1, 2018, after 34 years behind bars.
Bu prosecutors now have an unexpected opportunity to charge her with another crime she was suspected of committing.
“The prosecution and the parents [of other children who died] have always felt that justice has not been served,” Elkind says. “And they believe that a criminal prosecution of Genene Jones for murder in San Antonio is apt and fair, and overdue.”
On the other hand, Elkind says, defense attorneys are wary of the issues involved in bringing a new case against Jones with the express intent of preventing her release from prison.
“This is not a matter of justice,” Elkind says a defense attorney told him “If the case couldn’t be brought way back then, it doesn’t make sense to be bringing it now.”
Though the new case will be difficult for prosecutors to make, there is no statute of limitations on murder, Elkind says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.