Nurse accused of killing patients sentenced

Saturday, February 1, 2003

VERSAILLES, France -- A former nurse was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison for giving lethal injections of morphine or potassium to six seriously ill patients at a suburban Paris hospital.

Christine Malevre, 33, also was banned from her profession because of the deaths in 1997 and 1998. She was acquitted in the death of a seventh patient at a hospital in Mantes-la-Jolie, near Versailles, where she worked.

Prosecutors asked Thursday for a minimum sentence of 10 years -- a punishment that victims' families considered too lenient for her crimes. Under French law, Malevre could have been sentenced to life in prison.

"If Christine Malevre had been tried for killing seven people in good health, we'd be far from 10 years and closer to life in prison," said Olivier Morice, an attorney representing families of three victims.

Malevre was convicted of hastening or causing the deaths of six patients in the ward where she worked by administering overdoses of morphine or potassium in most cases.

She began working at the hospital in 1995, and her behavior -- including excessive devotion to terminally ill patients -- began arousing suspicions the following year.

In 1997, an inquiry began that eventually showed the number of deaths increased during the shifts Malevre worked. She was placed under formal police investigation in 1998 in the deaths of 11 patients, although charges eventually were dropped in four cases from lack of evidence.

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