Judge rules state should turn over evidence in DaVita deaths case

Kimberly Saenz mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.
Kimberly Saenz mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A district judge in the case of a former kidney dialysis nurse charged with killing five patients by injecting them with bleach has ordered the state to turn over the company's internal investigation.

Kimberly Clark Saenz, 38, of Pollok, is charged with capital murder in the five deaths, as well as five counts of aggravated assault. She was arrested in 2008 after a Lufkin Police investigation into an unusual amount of deaths at the DaVita Dialysis Clinic in Lufkin.

Saenz's attorney, Ryan Deaton, requested a Davita's internal investigation, including patient and employee statements, Thursday morning in Judge Barry Bryan's courtroom.

The hearing began with a conference call with Dennis McKinney at the state Attorney General's Office, who made a motion to quash the subpoena.

"Mr. Deaton is looking for testimony about documents and information that's behind these reports," McKinney said. "And he's looking for investigators. This is confidential to Texas Health and Safety code ... Mr. Deaton is looking for names of other DaVita patients, and then we start looking at HIPPA issues."

"Specifically, I'm asking for those ledgers that coincide with the faults that Texas Human Services found, so we can know who they're talking about," Deaton said. "All we have are numbers. We don't have employee's names."

Bryan ruled Davita should turn over ledgers to identify employee names with identification numbers, investigative notes to prepare report and information on witnesses interviewed to formulate the report.

McKinney has until January 26 to turn in the information to Bryan, who will act as "gatekeeper" of it and turn over the necessary information to Deaton and District Attorney Clyde Herrington.

Bryan explained that he only wanted information significant to the case released in the report, saying that there may be deficiency on DaVita's part, but only information relevant to this case will be released. Deaton requested permission to respond to this, saying information shouldn't be excluded if it doesn't implicitly say bleach.

"In the report, poor patient care could lead to death of individuals. Just because it doesn't say bleach doesn't mean it's not relevant to our case for patients dying during those months," said Deaton.

Jury selection starts on January 23, with the trial scheduled to begin March 5.

Thursday's was the final pre-trial hearing in the case.

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