03-14-05 - SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) - A judge today declared a mistrial in the case of a nurse charged with killing 10 elderly patients,
saying a prosecutor's comment during opening statements prejudiced
Vickie Dawn Jackson's attorney asked for the mistrial after prosecutor Ralph Guerrero told the jury that Jackson may not be able to give a reason for the crimes at Nocona General Hospital four years ago.
Defense attorney Bruce Martin says that comment indicated Jackson would testify -- when she doesn't have to.
State District Judge Roger Towery initially overruled the objection, but then took a two-hour break. He then declared a mistrial after Martin repeated his objection before beginning his opening statements.
The judge said he wanted the new trial to stay in San Angelo, although a timetable was unclear. Martin said he was pleased with the ruling.
Thirty-nine-year-old Jackson is being tried in two of the deaths at the rural North Texas hospital in January 2001. She maintains her innocence.
She faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Guerrero is a prosecutor in the Texas Attorney General's Office and is helping Montague County prosecutors with the case.
An assistant prosecutor said Guerrero's comment was inadvertent.
Jackson has been jailed since her 2002 indictment in four deaths, including her third husband's grandfather.
She was indicted last year in six more deaths and with injuring an 11th patient who later died.