Katrina Hospital Death Charges Dropped
Posted Jul 5, 2007 8:59 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
Charges have been dropped against two nurses accused of having helped murder four patients, aged 61 to 90, allegedly given a lethal drug cocktail by a physician during the chaos created by Hurricane Katrina.
The unusual case involved second-degree murder charges filed last summer against nurses Lori Budo and Cheri Landry, and physician Anna Pou. At the heart of the case were allegations that patients at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans were euthanized, as staff attempted, under horrendous conditions, to care for and evacuate patients during the storm and subsequent flooding that knocked out electric service and air conditioning, according to AP. With the lower level of the hospital under 10 feet of water and temperatures inside exceeding 100 degrees, 34 people died at the hospital, many of dehydration, before rescuers came four days after the storm waters broke through flood levies on Aug. 29, 2005.
"We're very pleased. We thought this was how it would end," attorney John DiGiulio, who represents Landry, told the AP on Tuesday. "We're cautiously optimistic that when it's all over no one will be charged -- including Dr. Pou." He and the lawyers for the other defendants contend their clients did heroic work under horrific circumstances, choosing to stay and help care for patients after other medical personnel evacuated.
A conviction in the second-degree murder case would have required a mandatory life prison sentence.