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East Texas nurse charged with killing 5 patients

POSTED: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 - 9:58pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 12:03pm

The nurse's father tells KETK his daughter "is a good Christian woman the truth will eventually come out."

LUFKIN - It was around this time last year when we first sat down with Walter Metcalf. He was still grieving, in major shock from the sudden loss of his wife Thelma. They had been married 48 years until she died six weeks after getting dialysis treatment at Lufkin DaVita Dialysis Center.

"Her primary doctor said he didn't understand why she went down so fast," Metcalf said, as his eyes filled with tears.

On the anniversary of her death - it now makes sense why she and others allegedly died so quickly.

Thelma's nurse - 35-year-old Kimberly Clark Saenz (SINES) - is charged with capital murder.

Prosecutors say she killed Thelma and 4 others by injecting them with bleach.

She was charged in May with aggravated assault involving bleach injections in two patients who survived, but she had not been charged in any deaths until late Tuesday.

The grand jury in Angelina County handed up indictments on one count of capital murder, which includes all five patient deaths, and five counts of aggravated assault, which replace the two charges filed last year and allege that three other patients were injected and survived.

Since the deaths over a four-week span last April, Saenz had been the focus of the investigation at the DaVita Inc. clinic in Lufkin. She was charged in May with aggravated assault involving bleach injections in two patients who survived, but she had not been charged in any deaths until late Tuesday.

She being held Wednesday at the county jail without bond. Her attorney, John Henry Tatum, hasn't returned numerous calls seeking comment, including one Wednesday, since her initial arrest last year.

Lufkin police have said two patients witnessed Saenz draw bleach into syringes and inject them into patients. Authorities say tests showed traces of bleach on the syringes and dialysis lines.

By her admission Saenz admitted drawing bleach into a syringe.

According to a May 2008 affidavit, Saenz told officers she drew bleach into a syringe but stated "she was using the syringe to measure the bleach for a cleaning solution."

The initial affidavit also says witnesses noted that the two patients injected "immediately began experiencing discomfort."

The affidavit went on to say Saenz also put saline in one patient "because her venous chamber was clotting during dialysis." The nurse said it was necessary to keep record of this and she noted it on charts.

KETK-TV visited the home of Saenz, a double wide trailer that sits next door to her parent's house. The homes are deep in the piney woods of Angelina County and situated along a desolate road. The family's church is located a short distance away and family members said it's where the nurse spent the majority of her free time.

The father Kimberly Saenz didn't want to appear on camera but told KETK "his daughter is a Christian woman and the truth will eventually come out."

He went on to she is the victim and that DaVita is the one to blame for the deaths.

He told KETK that his "daughter was only using bleach because her superiors at DaVita told her it was part of her daily cleaning duties."

DaVita, which operates about 1,300 dialysis centers nationally, has painted Saenz as a rogue nurse. She worked as a licensed nurse for nearly four years in Texas and spent eight months at DaVita before being fired on April 29.

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