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New Orleans Coroner Finds No Sign Of Homicide In Katrina Mercy Killing Case

File photo of a makeshift medical emergency room used during Hurricane Ketrina. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Chicago (AFP) Feb 01, 2007
A New Orleans coroner has found no sign of homicide in the alleged mercy killing of four elderly patients in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, local media reports. Orleans Parish Coroner Frank Minyard told the New Orleans Times Picayune that the physical evidence in the deaths patients in a flood-ravaged hospital does not indicate whether they died of natural causes or homicide.

"We did everything we were asked to do," Minyard said. "We took toxicology and sent it up to one of the best labs in the country for them to analyze...But as we stand now, with all of the consultants we have used in our investigation, the classification is undetermined."

The classification of undetermined means it is unclear whether the patients died of natural causes, accident, suicide or homicide.

A doctor and two nurses who were arrested last summer and accused of "Playing God" by administering lethal doses of morphine to patients they thought were too ill to survive in the sweltering, flooded hospital.

The three women have not yet been charged with a crime, but the district attorney plans to bring the case to a grand jury later this month despite the coroner's finding.

"There is no legal bar in going forward with a homicide prosecution just because a coroner has not classified it as a homicide," Assistant District Attorney Michael Morales, who is handling the investigation, told the paper.

Witnesses told investigators that a 92-year-old man told his nurse, "That burns," as she administered a deadly dose.

Neither Minyard nor Morales were immediately available for comment.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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