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Nursing home owners go on trial over Katrina drowning deaths

[JURIST] Prosecutors presented opening statements in the trial of nursing home owners Salvador and Mabel Mangano Thursday, saying that the operators of St. Rita's Nursing Home were criminally negligent for their failure to comply with the mandatory evacuation order during Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive]. Lawyers representing the Manganos, who pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to 35 charges of negligent homicide and 64 charges of cruelty last October, argued that the owners did what they thought would keep the residents safe by keeping the residents at the home with food, water, and generators. Thirty-five residents drowned in the flood water [NYT report; victim list, PDF] that overtook the one-story nursing home in less than 20 minutes. The trial is expected to last three to four weeks.

Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti [official website] charged the Manganos in September 2005, but the couple was not indicted [JURIST report] until last September due to the extensive damage in the area. Reuters has more.

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