SAN ANTONIO (CN) – A former nurse who spent the last three decades in prison for the murder of a 15-month-old girl was sentenced to life in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to killing another young child in 1981, bringing a close to a dramatic legal saga reopened after her near-release two years ago.
Genene Jones, 69, dubbed the “Angel of Death” because of her suspected ties in the deaths of dozens of young children, admitted to killing 11-month-old Joshua Sawyer on Dec. 12, 1981, while she worked as a nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit at a San Antonio hospital.
She was indicted in 2017 in the murders of five young children dating back to the early 1980s, preventing her release under a 1977 mandatory release law meant to curb overcrowded prisons. The remaining four cases were dismissed under the plea agreement.
“You took God’s most precious gift, babies,” Bexar County Judge Frank J. Castro said after accepting Jones’ plea. “I’m going to follow this agreement here but I truly believe that your ultimate judgment is in the next life.”
Wearing a blue two-piece prison outfit and large, black-rimmed glasses with tape holding them together, Jones used a walker in court and appeared to wipe away tears at one point while conferring with her attorneys. She was expected to face trial Feb. 10 but changed her not-guilty plea Thursday morning.
Family members of four of the victims, still haunted by their loved one’s death, were allowed to deliver victim impact statements Thursday morning, including Sawyer’s mother Connie Weeks.
“You should have to serve one year for every year of life you robbed from the babies that you murdered,” Weeks said. “Although that’s not possible, you will definitely serve the remainder of your life in prison for the babies lives you cut short. So I will leave you with this: I hope for you to live a long and miserable life behind bars. Goodbye.”
A judge in 1984 sentenced the ex-nurse to concurrent prison terms of 99 years and 60 years for the death of 15-month-old Chelsea McClellan and for injecting a 4-week-old boy with the blood thinner heparin. The boy survived the attack.
But Jones was grandfathered into a 1977 mandatory release law that would have let her out of state prison in 2018. That changed when former Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood, who appeared in court to watch Thursday’s proceedings, approved a task force to investigate Jones, who he called “pure evil” in a 2017 news conference announcing the new charges.
“This is truly a remarkable journey of over three decades to finally set the record straight,” said victims advocate Andy Kahan. “These families now know the truth: their infants, their babies, their children did not die of natural causes, they were murdered by a psychopathical, egotistical, narcissistic nurse who tried to play God. And thank God we were able to do what we did today and make sure that she spends the rest of her life in prison.”
“She will never breathe free air again,” he added.