Texas appeals court refuses Lufkin serial killer's second appeal

Texas appeals court refuses Lufkin serial killer's second appeal

AUSTIN, TX (KTRE) - On Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a ruling that refused Lufkin serial killer Kim Saenz' request for discretionary review.

Saenz' attorneys again appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals after the Fourth Court of Appeals upheld her capital murder conviction in August of 2015. Saenz was convicted of killing five patients while she was working as a nurse at the Da Vita Healthcare Dialysis Clinic in April 2008.

Robert A. Morrow III, Saenz' appeals attorney, said they are still able to file a writ of habeas corpus, which orders a person in custody to be brought before a court. It places the burden of proof on those detaining the person to justify the detainment.

"This leaves us avenues we can take that we could not take in the direct appeal, and I will be talking to her about that," Morrow said.

After the Fourth Court of Appeals' ruling, Angelina County District Attorney Art Bauereiss said they thought justice was served when Saenz was convicted of capital murder, and they were pleased with the higher court's ruling.

"Although both the jury charge and argument of counsel weigh in favor of egregious harm, we conclude the state of the evidence and the record as a whole substantially support a finding of guilt in regard to each of the capital murder victims," the Fourth Court of Appeals' opinion stated. "Accordingly, we hold the record does not establish egregious harm, and we affirm the trial courts judgment."

The Fourth Court of Appeals overruled each of Saenz's 21 issues on appeal and upheld the trial court's initial judgment on Jan. 22, 2014. However, on Dec. 10, 2014 the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the ruling and sent the case back to the Fourth Court of Appeals for an "egregious harm analysis," citing Almanza v. State.

Herrington said if he knew then what he does now about the law, he would have collaborated to create a different jury charge, one that would ask the jury if Saenz had intentionally caused the death of each individual victim.

"Each person would have been separately dealt with so you'd know exactly what the jury found instead of leaving it all open to say if she killed two or more people," Herrington explained.

However, both Herrington and Bauereiss agreed that Saenz would have made issues of appeal regardless of what the jury charge was.
"Kim Saenz is sentenced to a life without parole," Herrington said. "She has absolutely no reason to continue to appeal as long as the possibility even exists."

In April 2012, a 217th Judicial District Court jury found Saenz guilty of capital murder and three counts of aggravated assault and sentenced her to life in prison and three 20-year sentences for each of the aggravated assault charges.

"Between April 1, 2008 and April 28, 2008, the Da Vita HealthCare Partners, Inc. dialysis facility in Lufkin, Texas experienced an unusual number of patients suffering episodes of illness and cardiac arrest while undergoing dialysis treatment," the background portion of the opinion stated. "Patients were becoming sick and dying in an unexplained manner."

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling in December, 2014 stated 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.

Lufkin police say she killed the kidney dialysis patients by injecting bleach into their bloodstream, while she worked at Davita as a nurse.

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