Jury finds former Lufkin nurse guilty of capital murder

Published: Mar. 30, 2012 at 6:03 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 31, 2012 at 12:40 AM CDT
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Kimberly Saenz. Source: Angelina County Jail.
Kimberly Saenz. Source: Angelina County Jail.

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An Angelina County jury has found a former Lufkin nurse guilty of capital murder in connection to the deaths of five patients. She now faces no better than life in prison for the crime and could be put to death.

Kimberly Clark Saenz, 38, of Pollok, was charged with capital murder and five counts of aggravated assault. She was found guilty of injecting bleach into the bloodstream of kidney dialysis patients.

The jury also found her guilty of three counts of aggravated assault and not guilty on two other counts of aggravated assault.

Sentencing testimony for Saenz will begin at 9 a.m. Monday. She faces the death penalty for the crime and no less than life in prison without parole.

The jury found Saenz not guilty of counts two and four, which were aggravated assault charges involving Carolyn Risinger and Graciela Castenada. She was found guilty of counts one, three and five, which involved Marva Rhone, Debra Oates and Marie Bradley.

Count six was the capital murder charge, meaning the jury believed Saenz was guilty of killing at least two of the following: Clara Strange, Thelma Metcalf, Garlin Kelley, Cora Bryant and Opal Few.

Starting around 4:50 p.m., officers at the courthouse began searching everyone going into the courtroom individually, before a verdict was read.

The jury began deliberating the charges around 1 p.m. Thursday until 7 p.m. Jurors picked back up where they left off at 9 a.m. Friday.

Jurors did not take a break for lunch.

Saenz's defense team argued she was being used as a scapegoat for DaVita Dialysis Clinic to excuse the unusually high number of deaths in April 2008.

Kim Saenz's guilty verdict is justice served for Jamina Agnew's family.

"You can't bring my grandma back no matter what," said Agnew.

Her grandmother, Cora Bryant, was one of the five dialysis patients who died from bleach injections at the Lufkin DaVita Clinic in April 2008.

"I heard her first video testimony in court. The first week, I knew then that she was guilty," said Agnew.

Thursday, jurors began deliberation, reflecting on four weeks of intense testimony. 14 hours later, a verdict reached as it appeared the sun would set on another day.

"When the first verdict was read, there was kind of a gasp that went through the courtroom. And, she dropped her head the first guilty. The first one they read was a guilty verdict," said Lufkin author, John FoxJohn.

FoxJohn is penning a novel about the trial. He says the verdict answers many unsolved questions.

"5 people lost their lives. From the beginning, I've said that somebody's guilty for these 5 people. I didn't know who, and I've told people all along that the 12 jurors was going to have to decide who was guilty. And, they did. And, we have to respect that," said FoxJohn.

Saenz is now in the Angelina County Jail, waiting to learn her fate at sentencing. Agnew hopes Saenz will meet the same end as her grandmother.

"Because she killed my grandma, so I felt somebody need to do the same to her," said Agnew.

"The victims of this is who I really feel sorry for. I mean it was a lot of victims involved," said FoxJohn.

Tears and sobs from victim's families filled the courtroom as the guilty verdict was announced. Only Kimberly Saenz can explain her tears as she was escorted into a sheriff's car.

"My heart goes out to Kimberly Saenz's family. I feel sorry for her, but we have relief now. We can go on and put this behind us," said Dezmond Scott, the grandson of victim Cora Bryant.

Copyright 2012 KTRE. All rights reserved.