New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 16, 1984, New Braunfels, Texas
T exas /National
Thursday, February 16, 1984 3AMcClellan family vindicated by verdict
GEORGETOWN (AP) - Petti McClellan says she had never been to a courthouse for anything more serious than a marriage license, but she soon became all too familiar with the legal system after a nurse was charged with murdering her 15-month-old daughter.
The mother attended pre-trial hearings and carefully followed the legal intracacies of the case, which culminated Friday with nurse Genene Jones being convicted of murder.
"It’s over, it's over,” Mrs. McClellan said, sobbing. "I’m glad we won.”
Ms. Jones was convicted of injecting young Chelsea McClellan with a powerful muscle relaxant. She also is accused of administering life-threatening injections to six
other Kerrville-area children, and one child in nearby Bexar County.
“At least now this won’t happen to anyone else,” Mrs. McClellan said during jury deliberations. “It’s not going to bring Chelsea back, but it is some consolation to know that other parents won’t have this happen to them.”
Other members of the McClellan family — including Petti’s mother, sisters, grandmother and greatgrandmother — hugged and kissed prosecutors and said, “Thank you, thank you so much.”
“Now my granddaughter will be able to bury Chelsea,” said Mrs. McClellan’s great-grandmother, Hester Turner. “She never really has.”
Mrs. McClellan’s grandmother, Ruth Alexander, cried
as she said that "justice has been done.”
But she blamed Bexar County investigators for not investigating sooner a string of suspicious infant deaths at San Antonio’s Medical Center Hospital. Ms. Jones worked at the hospital at the time of the unexplained deaths.
"It if had been stopped in San Antonio, it would never have gone to Kerrville,” she said. "They were warned about Genene. They didn’t pay heed.
"Chelsea would be alive today,” Mrs. Alexander said. "That’s not being bitter. That’s being factual.”
Ms. Jones sobbed as deputies escorted her through a throng of news reporters and cameramen into a waiting patrol car, which took her back to the Williamson County Jail.
"That’s good. That’s what you get,” one woman yelled at Ms. Jones.
Another shouted, "The mothers will never stop crying.”
The protestors, who carried signs saying. "How many babies have you abused?” and "Stop the baby killings,” let out a loud cheer outside the courthouse when they learned of the guilty verdict.
Minutes after the verdict was announced. Petti and Reid McClellan stood locked in an embrace on a second-story courthouse veranda, tears running down both their faces.
Friends said they want to have another child, even if they must adopt.
"All we can do at this point is hope something like this never happens again,” Mrs McClellan said.
U.S. officials gloomy over Mideast policies
WASHINGTON (AP) - With President Amin Gemayel ap-pareptly nearing acceptance of a plan that would abrogate the Israeli-Lebanese troop withdrawal agreement, Reagan administration officials appear to have resigned themselves to the defeat of U.S. policies in Lebanon.
President Reagan, insisting there is still hope, said Wednesday, "As long as there is a chance for peace, we’re going to stay” in Lebanon. “That’s what our original mission was.”
But there were reports early today that Geyamel was leaning toward acceptance of an eight-point Saudi plan that sets as a goal a pullout of all foreign troops from Lebanon, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition they wouldn’t be named.
The plan would include an end to the May 17, 1983 Israeli-Lebanese peace agreement which Syria has maintained must be ended. One U.S. official said the Reagan administration was not taking a stand on the new proposal. "If the Syrians withdraw and Israel’s security is protected, it’s a pretty good arrangement,’’ the official said.
Another official, however, said Gemayel "may question whether it would be enough” to save his faltering government. "But he has to ask himself, what he is going to gain by abrogation.”
Secretary of State George P. Shultz, in remarks to reporters Wednesday, said, "Those who would dispense with this agreement must bear the responsibility to find alternative formulas for Israeli withdrawal.”
Shultz drew a bleak picture that seemed to offer little latitude for
President Reagan, Insisting there is still hope, said Wednesday, “As long as there is a chance tor peace, we’re going to stay” in Lebanon. “That’s what our original mission
influencing events in the wake of a series of victories by Syrian-backed Moslem militias.
"We face a new situation, brought about by military pressures against the legitimate government,” he said. “This Syrian-sponsored violence against the government has presented us with difficult choices, in view of the legislative and other constraints under which our forces are operating. We are nonetheless proceeding.”
John Hughes, the State Department spokesman, echoed similar sentiments when asked if U.S. policies had failed. Without answering in the affirmative, he said: "It has been a worthy cause; it’s been an honorable cause for the United States. We have worked hard at it. We have done our best. We will continue to be committed as best we are able. "
The administration's frustration was also illustrated by the fact that the American Marines at Beirut airport, symbol of the American presence, were almost completely surrounded by Druse and Shiite militiamen, who routed nearby government forces in battles Tuesday and Wednesday.
'Gang' of one
Detective admits Geter informant didn't mention group of robbers
DALLAS (AP) — A police detective who testified in 1982 that an “informant” told him of a "gang of blacks from South Carolina” and raised his suspicions about Lenell Geter has admitted the source was an elderly white woman who gave him only a license number.
Defense attorney Lee Bowers asked Greenville Police Lt. James Fortenberry during a hearing shortly after Geter’s conviction on armed robbery charges where he first learned of the gang he believed was responsible for a series of Dallas-area robberies.
“I developed that information in Greenville,” Fortenberry said in 1982, according to a transcript read Wednesday.
"You developed that information from your informant?” Bowers asked.
But Wednesday, Fortenberry admitted the "informant” was Jewell Peavey, a 68-year-old white woman who called police because a black man in a city park frightened her. Mrs. Peavey testified she gave only the license number of the man’s car to Fortenberry.
"Did you get information about a gang of robbers from South Carolina from Mrs. Peavey?” Bowers asked Fortenberry Wednesday.
"No, I did not," Fortenberry testified. "I knew nothing of six black engineers from South Carolina until after I arrested Lenell Geter.”
Fortenberry’s testimony came in the third day of a pre-trial hearing on a defense request to have the case dismissed "in the interest of justice."
Geter, 26, was granted a new trial in December after Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade conceded that news reports of the case had raised doubts about the validity of the conviction.
After nearly 16 months in prison, he has returned to work at E-Systems Inc., a defense contractor in Greenville.
Defense attorneys hope to convince state District Judge John Ovard that the case should not go again to trial because it resulted only from police incompetence and racism. The trial is scheduled to begin April 9.
Bowers said during a break in testimony that Fortenberry’s contradiction is important because "the whole thing began with his theory — which is a lie — about a gang of robbers from South Carolina. It was because of that theory that they put out some photos i of Geter ) and they got some hits."
Fortenberry also testified that he first learned of Anthony Williams. Geter’s roommate who was acquitted last year of a similar robbery charge,
because his car carried South Carolina license plates and was parked near Geter’s Volkswagen.
He said the only reason he distributed photographs of five other black E-Systems employees from South Carolina was that they also attended South Carolina State College.
"I would not say it directly implicated them but it was enough to raise suspicions,” Fortenberry said.
Fortenberry said he showed a photographic lineup of the six black engineers from South Carolina, compiled from E-Systems records, to a woman robbed at gunpoint in a restaurant parking lot.
She did not identify any of the six black males, including Geter.
Fortenberry then made a second lineup of mugshots of Geter. Williams, a third E-Systems employess and three other black males The woman, IxrnAnn Heard, picked Geter out of that lineup Two other people witnessed the robbery of Mrs. Heard Fortenberry never asked those two to identify Geter, he said. because "when I get a positive identification as I did on this particular case. I generally wait and let the other witnesses make their identification rn court ”
He said he showed the lineups to two witnesses to an earlier Greenville restaurant robbery and no identifications were made.
Houston gets nod for space station
HOUSTON (AP) -Houfton’a Johnson Space Center hat beaten out eight other centers for a chance to manage NASA’s space station program, officials said.
The final choice, which came down to the Houston operation and the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., was announced Wednesday by the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration.
“We’ve actually had fair advance notice that this was going to happen, but until we saw it in writing, I couldn’t assume,” Gerald D. Griffin, director of the Houston center, said in an interview. “The biggest fact is that we’re on a course here for another decade for strong development to keep JSC on top of the technology edge in space.”
Griffin said he was told of the selection in a letter from NASA Director James Beggs.
“I’m feeling very good about it all,” Griffin said.
“Everybody down here is very excited. Now we realize we’ve got the big challenge and now we’ve got to go to work and make it happen.” The Houston center, which has trained America’s astronauts since the infancy of the manned space program
in the early 1960s, was among eight centers considered for the space station mission.
Beggs said the Johnson Space Center would be forming a "program office” to coordinate engineering, business management, logistical operations and vendors which would supply the station.
President Reagan called for the construction of a station in his State of the Union address last month. NASA spokesman Dave Alter in Houston said it was likely the station could be in space in 1991 or 1992.
Griffin said the selection likely would raise the employment level at the center by 50 to 150 people
"It’s hard to say,” he said. "The station in and of itself is not going to cause a large personnel growth.
"The biggest impact is continuity and stability it gives to our planning and to our workforce, which always has responded to a challenge in a superb way. When you lay another challenge out there, it gives us the ability to retain our workforce and attract
“I’ve been talking with a number of people here and at headquarters (in Washington),” he said. "We’re narrowing that list today.”
HUNTSVILLE (AP) — James David Autry says officials should televise his execution, set March 14, if they really want to scare others out of committing crimes.
Autry, a 29-year-old who came within half an hour of being put to death Oct. 4, told Houston station KHOU* TV Wednesday the public doesn’t understand what executions are all about.
"It’s not real — all that real — to the public if they don’t see an execution,” Autry said. “If they’re serious about using the death penalty as a deterrent, they should let the public see it.”
He said he wants appeals efforts on his behalf stopped. His mother, Shirley Stacker of Florence, Colo., is working to have the death sentence commuted to life in prison.
Griffin said work already has begun an selecting a program
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