July 24, 2007 / 5:30 PM / 12 years ago

Murder charges dropped against Katrina doctor

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - All charges against a doctor accused of murdering four patients in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina have been dropped, U.S. prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Booking mug shot shows Dr. Anna Pou. All charges against a doctor accused of murdering four patients in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina have been dropped, a spokesman for the state prosecutors office said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Louisiana Department of Justice/Handout

A grand jury in New Orleans decided not to pursue charges against Anna Pou, who was arrested along with two nurses from Memorial Medical Center on second-degree murder charges in June 2006.

“I think that the grand jury considered all the evidence, and carefully considered it,” New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan told reporters at a local church event. “And they concluded that no crime had been committed. And that is the decision of our grand jury, and I think justice has been served after due process.”

The three were accused of administering a lethal cocktail of medications to four patients, ranging in age from 61 to 90, as the hospital sat without electrical power and surrounded by flood waters while staff and patients waited for days to be rescued.

Last month, Jordan said he would not seek indictments against the two nurses, Lori Budo and Cheri Landry, in exchange for their testimony to the grand jury.

“It’s a very good day,” said Greg Beuerman, a spokesman for Pou’s defense team. “It’s been a long time coming. It gives her her life back.”

All of the accused have been out on bond since their arrest. Pou has been relegated to a teaching role at a New Orleans medical school while awaiting a decision, Beuerman said.

At least 34 patients died at Memorial Medical Center in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina struck on August 29, 2005.

Pou’s arrest drew international attention and sparked outrage among health care workers in her hometown. Earlier this month, about 500 supporters gathered for a rally in her defense.

In January, Orleans Parish coroner Frank Minyard, citing inconclusive toxicology tests and the deteriorated state of the alleged victims’ bodies, declined to classify their deaths as homicides.

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