Could San Antonio's infamous 'Angel of Death' really be released from prison?
Genene Jones, 64, told a parole hearing at a prison in Angleton, where she is serving a 99 year sentence, that she is suffering from advanced kidney disease and other ailments, and deserves what is called 'compassionate parole.'
The Texas Department of Pardons and Paroles says much more testimony needs to be taken on the issue, and no decision will be made for several weeks.
But Andy Kahan, who is a prominent victim’s rights advocate, says the real issue we should be concerned about is a 1987 law that essentially mandates that Jones be released in 2018.
"Which would make her the first serial killer in this nation's history to be legally released," he said.
Jones was convicted of killing a little girl, Chelsea McClellan, my injecting her with an overdose of a muscle relaxing drug when she was working as a Registered Nurse at a pediatric clinic in Kerrville in 1983.
Jones previously worked at Bexar County Hospital in San Antonio, the current University Hospital, where she is suspected of murdering as many as sixty babies, toddlers and children in the same fashion.
The law, which was passed by the Legislature in response to major overcrowding of the state's prisons during the high crime 1980s, mandates that any inmate in the state prison system who was sentenced between 1977 and 1987 have a day taken off their sentence for every three days they serve in prison. That means Jones, who is serving a 99 year sentence, will be eligible for parole after serving 33 years, or, in 2018.
"Like it or not, Jones is in that category," Kahan said.
The law has since been repealed after a major drop in crime in Texas and the huge boom in prison construction in the 1990s wiped out all overcrowding. But in the United States, prisoners are sentenced under the laws that are in place at the time.
But Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed says she is considering another option to keep Jones behind bars.
She says she could file murder charges against Jones on one of the many killings she is alleged to have committed in Bexar County.
"The issue becomes whether some of the individuals we would absolutely need are still alive, and whether we could get evidence," she said.
Reed says her office has already begun to make inquiries about whether it would be possible to exhume the bodies of some of the children who were allegedly killed by Jones in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
She concedes it would be tough to win a conviction after so many years, but it would be worth the effort.
"She should absolutely not be released from prison," Reed said. "We will make every effort to make sure that doesn't happen."