Operators' post-Katrina negligent homicide trial postponed

Share this content:

The Louisiana nursing homeowners accused of 35 counts of negligent homicide in the wake of Hurricane Katrina have had their trial postponed four months to Aug. 13. Both the prosecution and defense lawyers asked for more time to investigate evidence for the trial, which was scheduled to start next month.

Sal and Mabel Mangano were the long-time owners of St. Rita's Nursing Home, where 35 residents died after levees broke and flooded the facility. The Manganos maintain that sheltering in place was safer than trying to move frail, elderly nursing home residents. They say that no one would have died if the government had responsibly maintained the levee system.

The jury trial, which was moved about 120 miles from the site of the deaths out of fear of a tainted jury pool, is ultimately expected to last about three weeks.

Also Monday, the judge, who was pulled out of retirement to preside over the trial, sided with a prosecution request, ruling that the negligent homicide charges and 64 charges of cruelty to the infirm would be heard at one trial. The Manganos' attorneys objected to the decision, saying survivors' tales of alleged cruelty to the infirm would unduly influence jurors considering the homicide charges.