SAN ANTONIO – Genene Jones, the nurse suspected in the deaths of a string of children under her care in the ’70s and ’80s, has pleaded guilty to the 1981 death of one infant in exchange for a single life sentence, MySanAntonio.com reported.
The plea comes after Jones — already in prison after a 1984 child-murder conviction — opted to alter her plea of not-guilty on charges she gave fatal drug overdoses to five San Antonio babies during 1981 and 1982.
Jones, 69, agreed to the deal in Bexar County’s 399th state District Court Thursday morning. She is suspected of murdering dozens of infants in her care.
Here is some of the backstory published in 2017 from the San Antonio Currant:
It’s been 34 years since a young San Antonio nurse suspected of murdering dozens of infants in her care was convicted for killing a baby girl at a Kerrville clinic. Jones, who the media dubbed the “Angel of Death,” was sentenced to 99 years behind bars. But now, with her pending release from prison, county prosecutors reignited an investigation into other infant deaths potentially linked to Jones.
On Thursday, a Bexar County grand jury indicted Jones, now 66, for the 1981 murder of Joshua Sawyer, an 11-month-old baby who died under Jones’ watch.
“Make no mistake, our office’s only focus is seeking justice for families,” said Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood at a Friday press conference. “Ultimately, true justice will come when she stands before our lord, but until then, we will make sure Genene Jones will take her last breath behind bars.”
Charges in the deaths of four other babies were dropped as part of the agreement, WGNTV reported.
“Ms. Jones, something has to be said for you taking the plea to life on this murder,” District Judge Frank J. Castro told the former nurse, who appeared in court dressed in a blue jail uniform. “But it doesn’t come close to what you did to these families and the tragedies that you caused. You took God’s most precious gift — babies, defenseless, innocent.”
“But I truly believe,” Castro said, “that your ultimate judgment is in the next life.”
On Thursday, as part of the plea deal, Jones had to face the families of children she is believed to have killed as they shared victim impact testimonies. Several held up photos of the children they had lost.
“You should have to serve one year for every year of life you robbed from the babies that you murdered,” Connie Weeks, Joshua Sawyer’s mother, said during her statement. “Although that’s not possible, you should definitely serve the remainder of your life in prison for the babies lives that you have shortened.”
Catherine Babbitt, chief of major crimes with the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, said in a statement that Jones’ victims “were not only children, but they were often critically ill children, and for her to decide on her watch who lived and who died is nothing short of evil.”
“The odds are that she will take her last breath in prison,” she said.
Jones would have been released in 2018 due to a state law meant to relive overcrowding had prosecutors not filed new charges in 2017.
At the time, former Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood said evidence showed Jones killed Joshua Sawyer with a deadly dose of Dilantin while he was a patient at Bexar County Hospital in San Antonio, now called University Hospital.
LaHood previously said his office suspected Jones was responsible for the deaths of almost 60 children. Jones worked at hospitals in the San Antonio area for about four years, LaHood said.
During that time, pediatric units showed a sharp spike in infant deaths during the shifts Jones worked.