Katrina Nursing Home Owners
The owners of a nursing home where 35 patients died after Hurricane Katrina were acquitted Friday of negligent homicide and cruelty charges for not evacuating the facility as the storm approached.
The jury took about four hours to acquit Sal and Mabel Mangano, the husband-and-wife owners of St. Rita’s Nursing Home in St. Bernard Parish, just outside of New Orleans.
“I can’t tell you how good this feels, how good those people are,” Mabel Mangano said outside the courthouse in St. Francisville, the town about 112 northwest of New Orleans where the trial was moved. “This has been a very rough road.”
They had faced 35 counts of negligent homicide and 24 counts of cruelty to the elderly or infirm after the patients drowned â€” some in their beds â€” when the monster hurricane swept through the area in 2005.
Judge Jerome Winsberg asked the defendants to stand when the verdicts were read. When Mabel Mangano did so, she buried her face in her husband’s shoulder.
Afterward, the Manganos sat back down and hugged each other. Their daughter, Tammy White, sobbed quietly.
“I’m very gratified that the two-year ordeal they’ve been through is finally over,” defense attorney John Reed said.
The victims’ family and friends â€” all wearing black, some with buttons with a picture of the person who died at St. Rita’s â€” sat stoically. None cried.
Assistant Attorney General Burton Guidry read a statement from his boss, Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti: “I feel for the victims of this tragedy, and my heart goes out to them. I hope they will be able to put this behind them.”
Yolanda Hubert’s 72-year-old mother, Zerelda Delatte, died when the home flooded; her aunt, Gilda Raklen, 90, survived. Hubert said she traveled from Texas to attend the trial.
“The jury may not have found them guilty, but our savior says they are. When they face our maker, they’ll have to answer then,” she said. “They still have never said they were sorry. They haven’t said ‘I’m sorry I let your mother drown like a rat.’ They’re guilty as hell,” she said.
The prosecution maintained that the Manganos should have heeded warnings and evacuated before the massive storm roared ashore. Failing to do so led directly to the patients’ death and suffering, prosecutor Paul Knight had argued.
The defense argued that the Manganos had safely sheltered in their brick facility for 20 years, and that if the levees had not broken, the home would have been safe.
This entry was posted on Sunday, September 9th, 2007 at 9:01 am and is filed under Crime and Punishment, Disasters, Disasters, Gulf Reconstruction. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.