Trial of nursing home owners to begin August 13th - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

New Orleans-Katrina aftermath

Trial of nursing home owners to begin August 13th

Notices have gone out for potential jurors to

hear the case against the owners of a nursing home where 35

patients died in flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina.

The notices were sent to residents of West Feliciana Parish

following an earlier decision to move the highly publicized trial

to St. Francisville. At a hearing on Monday, lawyers in the case

will talk about how the jury will be picked.

The trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 13.

"That's one of a number of pretrial issues we'll be

discussing," said James Cobb, attorney for Salvador and Mabel

Mangano, the couple who own St. Rita Nursing Home in St. Bernard

Parish. "It should be a busy day."

The Manganos each face 35 counts of negligent homicide. Each

count carries up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Monday's hearing will be the first held in St. Francisville,

about 120 miles northwest of St. Bernard Parish. The move was

decided on after defense lawyers and the judge agreed that

assembling a jury would be difficult in the suburban New Orleans

parish where Katrina's flooding devastated homes and businesses and

drove out most of the population.

State District Judge Jerome Winsberg has held a series of

hearings aimed at streamlining the upcoming trial, which is

expected to be lengthy.

The state attorney general's office is prosecuting the case.

Attorney General Charles Foti has said the Manganos should have

taken steps to evacuate St. Rita's patients before flood waters

rose due to Katrina, which struck on Aug. 29, 2005.

Defense lawyers said the nursing home had never flooded before

Katrina and that the Manganos' hurricane plan - keeping frail

residents in place with food, water and generators rather than

risking their lives by moving them - was responsible. No one would

have died had levees held after the storm, the defense contends.

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