Louisiana nursing home owners Salvador and Mabel Mangano may be able to present evidence at their trial that government officials, and not they, were to blame for the deaths of 35 residents following Hurricane Katrina.

A state judge this week said he is “leaning heavily” toward allowing testimony about “third-party fault.” The Manganos have maintained that if the New Orleans levees held, there would not have been flooding after the storm, and the residents would not have died. Their trial is set to begin Aug. 13.

The couple has pleaded innocent to 35 counts of negligent homicide and 26 counts of cruelty to the infirm for failing to evacuate St. Rita’s prior to the storm. The number of cruelty counts was reduced from 28 to 26 this week after both sides agreed that two residents had left the nursing home before the hurricane hit.