Prosecutors suspect that Jones is responsible for the deaths of as many as 60 children while nursing at various hospitals and clinics around San Antonio between 1977 and 1982

By Ashley Boucher
January 16, 2020 07:35 PM
Genene Jones
Texas Department of Criminal Justice. via AP

Former Texas nurse Genene Jones — known as the “Angel of Death” — has been sentenced to life in prison after she pled guilty to the 1981 death of an 11-month-old in her care.

Jones, 69, was charged with the death of Joshua Sawyer in 2017, about a year before she was set to be released from a previous conviction. Sawyer died from a toxic level of the anti-seizure drug Dilantin while in Jones’ care at Bexar County Hospital in 1981.

“With this plea, the odds are she will take her last breath in prison,” said prosecutor Catherine Babbitt after Jones’ sentencing, according to ABC News.

Jones must serve at least 20 years in prison before she has a chance for parole, Babbitt said, adding that two years recently spent in Bexar County Jail while waiting for trial — which had been scheduled for February — will count toward that number.

That means that the earliest Jones could be eligible for parole is in 18 years, when she is about 87 years old, ABC News pointed out.

Prosecutors suspect that Jones is responsible for the deaths of as many as 60 children while nursing at various hospitals and clinics around San Antonio between 1977 and 1982, PEOPLE previously reported.

Genene Jones in 1984

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“She is pure evil and justice warrants that she be held accountable for the crimes she committed,” former San Antonio District Attorney Nico LaHood said in a statement to PEOPLE in 2017, when she was charged with Sawyer’s death (Joe Gonzales has since taken over as the district attorney). “Our Office will attempt to account for every child whose life was stolen by the actions of Jones. Our only focus is justice.”

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The sentence Thursday comes nearly 36 years after Jones’ 1984 conviction for the death of 15-month-old Chelsea McClennan, to whom she administered a fatal dose of a drug at a clinic in Kerrville. Jones was sentenced to 99 years in prison at the time, but was set to be released in 2018 because of a since-repealed legislation designed to cut down on prison overcrowding.

In 2018, Bexar County Assistant District Attorney Jason Goss said in court during a pretrial hearing that Jones had confessed to some of the murders.

RELATED: ‘Angel of Death’ Nurse Suspected of Killing 60 Children Is Charged with Toddler’s Murder in 1981

I really did kill those babies,” she allegedly told a parole officer, Texas Monthly reported.

Jones also allegedly told a fellow inmate, “I didn’t kill those babies. The voices in my head did.”

On Thursday, Babbitt reportedly said after the hearing, “We trust our nurses — our nurses are specifically trained to provide comfort and medical care for their patients.”

“And these patients were not only children but they were often critically ill children,” she added, ABC News reported. “And for her to decide on her watch who lived and who died is nothing short of evil.”

The Bexar County District Attorney’s office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment. Jones’ lawyer could not immediately be reached by PEOPLE.