Texas Court of Appeals sends Lufkin serial killer case back to circuit court

Kimberly Saenz (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Kimberly Saenz (Source: Angelina County Jail)


Citing the trial court's error in a jury charge, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has sent the case of a Lufkin serial killer back to circuit court.

The court's ruling states the Angelina County district court erred in allowing jurors to convict without unanimously agreeing on which specific victims were murdered by Kimberly Clark Saenz, 41.

The opinion, which was written by Judge Paul Womack, states the trial court's error must be analyzed for "egregious harm."

The Fourth Court of Appeals upheld Saenz's conviction in January.

A jury ruled Saenz guilty of capital murder following a lengthy trial in April 2012. She was accused of five murders in 2008. Lufkin police say she killed the kidney dialysis patients by injecting bleach into their bloodstream, while she worked at Davita as a nurse.

"They had to find her guilty of who she specifically killed and the way it was worded was not specific enough," said Saenz's trial attorney Ryan Deaton. "I'm happy with this ruiling. It means she could get another chance."

Retired District Attorney Clyde Herrington said he did not agree with what has happened and thought they did the right thing with the charge that was read to the jury.

"There was no objection to the charge at the time," Herrington said. "There also wasn't any guidance in the law on how to word a charge in this type of case."

Current Angelina County District Attorney Art Bauereiss said he was shocked by the decision and plans on fighting the case.

"She did not enter instructions ask for that, so the next question becomes did she suffer egregious harm because of that, and I do not thi ninkthin did," Bauereiss said. "We will file some arguments with the court of appeals in San Antonio, urging them to adopt the position that there was no egregious harm from the jury instructions."

Amy Martin, an attorney in Houston, is currently part of the legal counsel representing Saenz in the appeals process and said the court did what is just.

"We are very pleased," Martin said. "We believe the court made the decision according to the law and what is just."

Martin said the 4th Circuit Court is under no time table so she is unsure of when something could happen.

Deaton said the ruling opens up the possibility of a re-trial on the capital murder charge.

"The decisions that were made by the jury on the aggravated assault and death penalty will still stand," Deaton said. "She will have to serve the time for the assault and they cannot go back and give her death."

Deaton said he is leery of a re-trial in Angelina County.

"I always thought the people of Angelina County were always split on what they thought," Deaton said. "A lot of people have made their minds up one way or the other. I doubt she could get a fair trial back here.

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