Criminal Justice

Trial in 35 Katrina Nursing Home Deaths

Jury selection began today in the trial of two owners of a Louisiana nursing home where 35 patients died during Hurricane Katrina, allegedly because they defied a mandatory order to evacuate before the storm surge hit on Aug. 29, 2005.

After levees ruptured, a flood inundated St. Rita’s nursing home in St. Bernard Parish, reports the Associated Press. Salvador Mangano, 67, and Mabel Mangano, 64, are charged with 35 counts of negligent homicide and 24 counts of cruelty to the elderly or infirm. The trial is expected to last three weeks, although jury selection got off to a slow start, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

The Manganos contend the evacuation order was not mandatory, and say they worried that the evacuation itself would be physically harmful to the home’s frail residents.

The two are now reportedly the only persons to face criminal charges concerning Katrina, following the recent dismissal of all charges against a doctor and two nurses concerning the deaths of patients at a New Orleans hospital. (An post last week discusses the resolution of this other case.)

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