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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Press Conference on Arrest of Texas Nurse

Aired July 17, 2002 - 12:31   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, we are going to go to Nocona, Texas, another story that we have been following, and that is law enforcements right now are discussing the case against a Texas nurse, who was arrested yesterday on two charges of capital murder after an investigation into as many as 20 suspicious deaths over a two-month period at the Nocona General Hospital -- let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

TIM COLE, MONTAGUE COUNTY, TEXAS DISTRICT ATTORNEY: ... were killed during the same course of conduct. It's what might be called the serial-killing section of the capital murder statute. In the state of Texas, there are only two possible punishments for capital murder: death by lethal injection and life in prison.

There had been questions at this point and previously in this case about whether there will be other exhumations. I will tell you at this point that no other exhumations are planned. The exhumations that were completed, as we said at the time that the exhumations were done, are those that we felt, and our experts told us, were the ones where we were most likely to find the evidence that would lead to the indictments, and that remains the case. At this point in time, we do not plan to have any further -- or do any further exhumations.

Now, that's not to say that there may not be other charges filed, because as we receive the results of other testing in this case, we may file, or it is possible that we will file other counts of capital murder. We have the results of the four that have been filed so far. There are six remaining that have been exhumed, and those results are still pending and are currently being tested at the FBI lab in Washington, D.C.

Let me just say that the agencies involved in this investigation were the FBI, the Texas Rangers, my office, the Nocona Police Department, the Montague County Sheriff's Office, the State Nursing Board, who revoked Ms. Jackson's nursing license at one point during the investigation, and the Texas Attorney General's office assisted with the obtaining of some records.

Jackson will be arraigned in the 97th District Court here because of the pending indictment. At this point, there is no date set for that. It normally occurs about within 30 days of indictment. So I suspect that within 30 days of yesterday's date, she should be scheduled for her first court appearance. At this point in time, there -- I believe she has been -- she has retained a lawyer named Joel Steed from Dallas, Texas. That's the only information I have about him.

The pretrial and trial, of course, will be scheduled at a later date, and there is no way of predicting at this point when that will occur. I suspect it will be several months down the road.

I just want to say a couple things about -- before I take questions, about two things. One, the Nocona Hospital, the staff and administration of the Nocona Hospital was extremely cooperative with this investigation. Indeed, they made it possible for us to move quickly and for the investigators to move quickly in this case. One of the reasons why, in fact, the primary reason why this case was solved was because they let law enforcement know quickly that something was going on at the hospital, and made it possible for us to collect the evidence that we feel will lead us into trial.

I also want to say that those of us here in Montague County, who work in law enforcement in Montague County, are extremely appreciative of the FBI and the Texas Rangers in this case, because there was just an incredible amount of cooperation and assistance given to us in this case from the FBI and the Texas Rangers. And I don't believe that it's possible for those of you out there to understand just how much manpower and time has gone into the investigation of this case. I am extremely proud of these gentlemen and these ladies that were involved in this, and I hope you understand just how much we were assisted in this case by agencies outside of our jurisdiction.

Now, before I take any questions, I want to say -- and believe me, I know this won't keep you from asking questions about it -- but I want to tell before you I take questions that I am ethically constrained to answer questions about the evidence in the case. This case is pending now. It's indicted. It's in court. I cannot try this case in the press. I will not try this case in the press. So my ethics that I operate under as an attorney prevent me from detailing to you what the evidence will be, what it is now, what it will be at trial.

So with that preface, I know you are going to ask me about it, but please understand that that's probably going to be the answer that you get to any question asked of me about what the evidence is in the case.

So with that, I'll turn it over to the questions.

QUESTION: Death penalty?

COLE: That decision hasn't been made at this point.

PHILLIPS: Montague County D.A. Tim Cole there in Nocona, Texas, addressing reporters about this Texas hospital nurse -- former Texas hospital nurse, Vickie Dawn Jackson, being charged with murder after a probe of suspicious deaths. This is a picture of 36-year-old Vickie Dawn Jackson.

She was a licensed vocational nurse who worked at this hospital for about a year before being fired, and was taken into custody after being indicted by a grand jurdy (ph) -- grand jury, rather.

Now, to give you a little background, this investigation began after hospital officials noticed that a number of deaths during December, 2000, and January, 2001, were twice the normal amount. Several vials of Mivacron -- Mivacron Chloride, it's a muscle relaxant that can be deadly in large amounts. Well, it came up missing around the same time that these deaths occurred. Tissue samples from the bodies were sent to the FBI laboratory. That's how they made the connection between this muscle relaxant and the deaths and this nurse, Vickie Dawn Jackson.

So once again, we will continue to follow the investigation here and the charges with murder on these suspicious deaths out of Nocona, Texas.

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